Dr Mahathir proposes unity government, PH endorses Anwar


TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture; left) has proposed a non-partisan government to end the stalemate which has dragged the country into political wilderness in the worst crisis faced by the nation.

Less than an hour after Dr Mahathir’s first address to the nation, Pakatan Harapan (PH) announced that the leadership of the alliance had endorsed PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (right) to be the next prime minister (PM).

Anwar’s announcement will further complicate any moves to form a bipartisan government proposed by the interim PM. The announcement to endorse Anwar came a day after the alliance leaders projected their support for Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir, who looked sombre during the six-minute nationally televised address, expressed his regrets that “politicians and political parties have prioritised politics” above the country’s interest.

He said extreme partisan politics needed to be put aside as the country faces cruel challenges. “If permitted, I will try to establish an administration that is not favoured to any party, but only the nation’s interest.

“If permitted, this is what I will try. I pray to Allah the Almighty that I am guided in this endeavour,” said the 95-year-old statesman.

It was the first time Dr Mahathir had spoken about the political chaos in the country, following gerrymandering by various parties to wrestle power during the weekend.

The political chaos had forced the oldest PM in the world to abandon his own party, reject a new alliance and resign from his position. His decision collapsed the 20-month-old PH government, which he led the alliance to an unexpected election victory in May 2018.

Dr Mahathir also revealed some of the reasons behind his shocked resignation, including accusations of treachery and power hungry.

“There were a lot of reasons why I resigned. But suffice to say that I felt I supposedly had the support from all sides to the extent that I was unable to choose a side.

“Besides, there were accusations that I never meant to let go of the position and was ‘power-crazy’. “As such, I resigned because I do not see power and position as be-all and end-all of my goals. To me, power and position are a means to an end or a tool to achieve an objective. And our objective is, of course, for the good of the country,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said there were signs that politicians have placed the most importance on which party would rule. In truth, he resigned to allow the Dewan Rakyat to decide who would be my replacement.

“If it is true that I still have the support, then I will return. If not, I will accept whoever is chosen. So, the opportunity to change the leadership is there. I, however, felt that since I have the support of both sides, it was not yet time for me to resign,” said the clearly solemn interim PM.

Dr Mahathir said the exit of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and others from Pakatan Harapan led to the collapse of the previous government, an end he had predicted.

He said if Bersatu supports PAS and Umno, the government from the alliance would be dominated by Umno.

“I am willing to accept Umno members who leave the party and join another party. But Umno would be joining this unity government as Umno itself. I could not accept this and so I had to resign,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also apologised if his resignation move was wrong.

Meanwhile, Anwar said the PH Leadership Council had named him as the PM’s candidate from the coalition, following a consensus of PH leadership council meeting held on Tuesday.

Less than an hour after Dr Mahathir’s address, Anwar announced he was PH’s candidate as the country’s next PM.

Anwar said Dr Mahathir was invited to chair the meeting of the Leadership Council but declined, allowing the the decision-making body to nominate the PKR chairman’s name to the King.

“Today, the PH MPs from PKR, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara has nominated Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the PM candidate for PH government,” Anwar said at a packed press conference at the party’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya. Also present were all PH component leaders.

Anwar added that the bloc, which is left with only three component parties since Bersatu’s exit, has been trying to remain intact and hold the people’s mandate, albeit the many efforts to topple the legitimate government.

Anwar did not disclose the number of support he had received, saying that he would leave the matter to the King’s discretion.