Mounting support for Dr M to be the PM again

If all MPs from all parties do not stray from their promises, Dr Mahathir could receive the backing from more than 150 lower house members

by RAHIMI YUNUS & AFIQ AZIZ / pic courtesy of the Prime Minister’s Office

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad may yet return as the country’s eighth prime minister (PM) based on the outpouring support from a myriad of political parties, two days after his shocked resignation rocked the nation.

Dr Mahathir was back at work in Putrajaya yesterday as the interim PM after his resignation was accepted by the King on Monday. The 95-year-old is the only person with ministerial responsibilities and powers at the federal level.

The powers of the deputy PM, Cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and political secretaries had been stripped following Dr Mahathir’s resignation, in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

Dr Mahathir, who also resigned as the chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, could be the first leader to lead a nation without a clear link to a political party. Bersatu, however, rejected his resignation.

A few other political parties yesterday threw their support behind Dr Mahathir to become the eighth PM. Former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and MPs in his faction had pledged their support for Dr Mahathir to stay as PM.

DAP, which is the second-largest component party in Pakatan Harapan (PH), wants Dr Mahathir to come back and lead the nation.

Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) had endorsed Dr Mahathir to continue as the PM and the stand had been relayed to the King by Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg. All MPs under GPS also backed Dr Mahathir for the prime ministership.

Bersatu, Parti Warisan Sabah and Parti Amanah Negara also voiced their support for the former seventh PM.

Despite no official announcement from PKR, the party could throw their support behind Dr Mahathir and avoid a politically suicidal snap election. PH did not fare well in the last few by-elections, especially in Malay-majority constituencies.

If all the MPs from all the parties do not stray from their promises, Dr Mahathir could receive the backing from more than 150 lower house members, giving the elder statesman a two-third majority in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat.

Barisan Nasional and PAS, which had been part of the gerrymandering to form a back-door government, yesterday retracted their support for Dr Mahathir and called for a snap election. The decision was relayed to the King.

Both parties rejected any proposal to work with DAP in any new alliance.

Political leaders have been lining up in Putrajaya to meet Dr Mahathir. But he has not spoken to the media. It is also not known if he would want to lead the country again despite the overwhelming support.

Dr Mahathir yesterday met Abang Johari from GPS, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng, Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Amanah president Mohamad Sabu. The interim PM also held a meeting with Azmin.

Dr Mahathir is expected to meet Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal today. The fierce political wrangling since the PH Presidential Council meeting last Friday led to the collapse of the PH government, plunging the country into political oblivion.

The King has been meeting MPs individually to get their votes on who they prefer as the PM or to call for a snap election. An MP who gets the majority support from the members of the lower house can be appointed as the PM.

Dr Mahathir arrived at his Putrajaya office at 9.29am yesterday as the interim PM to kickstart his “just another day in the office” schedule.

He left the office at 5.45pm yesterday and waved at the journalists who had been camping outside the main entrance of the Perdana Putra.