Malaysia stuck in a political stalemate?

The power transition plan is a consensus achieved by PH prior to GE14, which stated that Anwar will succeed Dr Mahathir

by DASHVEENJIT KAUR/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

MORE than 21 months ago, Malaysian voters created history by voting a new political coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH), as the new ruling government on May 9, 2018.

PH, led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, ended Barisan Nasional’s 60 years administration by securing 113 out of the 222 parliamentary seats and thus entitled by law to form a new government with a simple majority.

The new government was confronted with many challenges as it seeks to restore investors’ confidence and political stability in the country that was dragged for many years with corruption allegations.

There was also an issue of power transition, with many leaders of PKR — a component party of PH — have requested Dr Mahathir to set a date of power transfer to PKR head, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The growing calls became more apparent in the last few months until Dr Mahathir himself announced in a press conference last Friday that he will decide on his resignation, which will be after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit this November.

However, within 48 hours after chairing the PH Presidential Council meeting, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Dr Mahathir has tendered his resignation letter to the King.

The Malaysian Reserve takes a look in the events that were unfolded during the weekend:

Azmin talks to the media after attending the dinner with several Umno Supreme
Council members – pic by BERNAMA

The Long Weekend

On Feb 22, 2020, PH held a Presidential Council meeting, whereby discussions over the transition of the premiership to Anwar took place.

The power transition plan was a consensus achieved by PH prior to 14th General Election (GE14), which stated that Anwar will succeed Dr Mahathir.

The meeting had lasted longer than usual, ended with the ruling pact unanimously agreeing to maintain Dr Mahathir as the PM until the 94-year-old leader decides to step aside.

“We have discussed extensively the coalition’s future. There were two opinions, but in the end, it was all left to me.

“I said the transition is after APEC. No time, no date, no nothing. It’s up to me,” Dr Mahathir told reporters after the meeting last Friday.

Anwar also assured that he stood by the PM’s decision.

“Our stand is clear. I suggested that Dr Mahathir to be given the room to lead and when he sets the right time, then that’s when it would happen. Until then, I have to be patient,” he said.

The Presidential Council meeting saw the pact’s top leadership from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara in attendance.

Reports by local media quoting sources, however, claimed that the meeting was intense than usual.

There was push by some council members for Dr Mahathir to set a date for the transition, while others were left disgruntled with the way discussions took place.

Some reports indicated that if council members failed to reach an agreement that night, an effort to form a government consisting of Bersatu, Umno, PAS and a segment from PKR would be initiated.

Others reported a campaign to declare support for the two-times-turned-statesman is already underway among lower house members.

Following the meeting held last Friday, nine PKR leaders and MPs aligned to PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, were spotted at Sheraton Hotel, Petaling Jaya.

Separately, Bersatu top leaders met at the party’s headquarters at Yayasan Selangor.

Meanwhile, a few Umno Supreme Council members, including VP Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Women Umno chief Datuk Noraini Ahmad, secretary general Tan Sri Annuar Musa, Pontian MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan and Pasir Salak MP Tajuddin Abdul Rahman were also at the hotel.

Later in the evening, according to a tweet by Annuar, MPs from Umno, PAS, Bersatu, PKR, Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah, MCA and MIC were spotted having dinner together in Sheraton Hotel.

Supporters of Anwar, meanwhile, gathered at his home in Bukit Segambut for a prayer session, where he said there had been an attempt to “betray”, without naming anyone.

The Morning After

After a day of unexpected meetings among political parties on Sunday, it was learned that Dr Mahathir had a meeting with Anwar, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng.

Anwar when met after the meeting said he was satisfied with the outcome.

“It was a very good meeting. I am satisfied with his stance that we must prioritise our principles and the reform agenda must continue. That is all I can say for now,” Anwar said.

Subsequently, PM’s Office announced that Dr Mahathir tendered his resignation to the King.

In a two-line statement, the PM said he had informed the country’s King of his resignation at 1pm yesterday.

In a separate statement two hours later, Dr Mahathir also announced his decision to quit as Bersatu’s chairman.

Prior to that, Bersatu’s president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in a statement said the party has left PH, following a decision made in a special party meeting held on Sunday.

All Bersatu’s MPs would also leave the ruling coalition.

Separately, PKR’s secretary general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said Azmin, who is also the economic affairs minister and Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin have been sacked from the party following a consensus from a meeting of the party’s central leadership council held yesterday.

“The central leadership council agreed that there has been an open act of betrayal by some characters who are clearly in conflict with the party’s stand on the matter of prime minister. As a result of this open betrayal led by these masterminds, it created a situation that could destabilise the PH government.

“Therefore, the central leadership council unanimously decided in a consensus decision, with no disagreement, that Azmin and Zuraida are dismissed as members of PKR with immediate effect due to the role they played yesterday,” he told a media conference at the party’s headquarters yesterday.

The announcement was followed by a joint statement by Azmin and Zuraida, together with nine other PKR MPs, saying they have left PKR to set up an independent bloc in Parliament.

The other nine are: Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (Indera Mahkota), Baru Bian (Selangau), Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar (Bandar Tun Razak), Datuk Mansor Othman (Nibong Tebal), Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon (Batu Pahat), Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar (Segamat), Ali Biju (Saratok), Willie Mongin (Puncak Borneo) and Jonathan Yasin (Ranau).