PM: I will step down and honour my promise unless…

Dr Mahathir confirms recent meeting with Opposition members, as well as PH and NGO representatives

by ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by ARIF KARTONO

PRIME Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) has no intention of completing a full five-year term in power amid growing calls for leadership stability from both sides of the political divide.

“Unless they push me to a corner, put a gun to my head and tell me to (complete the full term), then I will step down. I will keep my promise,” he told reporters after attending a roundtable dialogue with the International Chamber of Commerce in Putrajaya yesterday.

The 94-year-old leader confirmed that he had a meeting last Tuesday with members from the Opposition, who allegedly tried to convince him to serve out his full term.

Dr Mahathir added that representatives from Pakatan Harapan (PH) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were also present in the meeting.

“They wanted to come and see me. So, I see them. I hear what they have to say. They support me. Thank you very much,” he said.

The question of whether a change in premiership will take place midway resurfaced after PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang pledged his support for Dr Mahathir over the weekend.

Abdul Hadi was quoted as saying that “changing a PM is not like changing shoes”.

It was also reported that the meeting saw the Opposition politicians pledging their full support for Dr Mahathir to complete a whole term as PM.

It was said the bloc comprised members of the new Umno-PAS pact and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).

Based on the Parliament website, Umno, PAS and GPS have a total of 74 federal seats in the Dewan Rakyat.

The report also claimed that those in attendance included former Umno VP and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein; PAS VP and Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar; PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan; and GPS chief whip Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

In a statement issued last Monday, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali made a similar call, saying that Dr Mahathir’s leadership is key to ensuring “stability, continuity and consistency of government policies to drive investment, as well as create jobs and prosperity for everyone”.

Azmin added that the support for Dr Mahathir from the Opposition would create a new era of bipartisanship, allowing for more institutional reforms.

In an interview with Turkish broadcaster TRT World during his four-day working visit to the country recently, the PM said he would keep his promise to step aside and pass the baton to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“I have already agreed that when I step down, Anwar will take over from me as the PM. That is a promise I made and I will stay with that promise,” he told the Turkish TV station.

Dr Mahathir, who led Pakatan Harapan to power last year, has promised to step down before the next general election in 2023 to make way for Anwar. The handover timeline, however, is unclear.