Dr Wan Azizah cannot be the interim PM as the PH govt has lost its majority at that point of time
by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
FORMER Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah did not propose any name for the interim PM post during the one-week political tussle in February last year.
Instead, Dr Mahathir said the Ruler had refused to accept his resignation and requested for the Langkawi lawmaker to be the interim PM.
The 96-year-old leader said this in response to former Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas’ autobiography which claimed that the King had intended for former deputy PM Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to fill in the post.
“According to Thomas, I told him that the King had wanted to appoint Dr Wan Azizah as interim PM. This is nonsense.
“After reluctantly accepting my resignation, the King suggested that I become the interim PM. Dr Wan Azizah could not be acting PM or interim PM because the PH government had already collapsed,” Dr Mahathir said in a long blog entry yesterday.
“Thomas knew nothing about my resignation,” he added.
Dr Mahathir further clarified that Dr Wan Azizah could not succeed him as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition has lost its majority due to the exit of PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia MPs from the bloc.
This is unlike the previous succession plan during the Barisan Nasional (BN) administration in which BN commanded the majority in the Dewan Rakyat.
In his autobiography entitled “My Story: Justice in the Wilderness”, Thomas said Dr Mahathir presented his name for the interim PM post, although it was more constitutional for Dr Wan Azizah to take the post.
“This is probably without precedent in modern politics. A PM, who is comfortably in power, resigns of his own free will and volition,” Thomas wrote.
Dr Mahathir refuted the claim, saying he could not turn down the King’s request for him to carry out the premiership role temporarily, as the executive body needs a leader for the government to function before the eighth PM is appointed.
“I never offered myself (as the interim PM), but it would be rude for me not to accept his proposal.
“Dr Wan Azizah as deputy PM could not take my place as PH was no longer the government. Nor could any member of PH take over from me,” Dr Mahathir explained.
Dr Mahathir also clarified his proposal to form a unity government — an idea he had while holding the interim PM post, as political leaders were occupied in lobbying for support to form their favourable government bloc.
“As interim PM, my job was to help set up a government. The politicians were all talking about their parties’ interests, instead of about the nation.
“I thought we should all forget about our parties and think about the nation.
“So, I told all party heads that we should have a unity government and parties should forget their individual agenda,” he added. On Thomas’ other revelations, Dr Mahathir said he was generally satisfied with the former AG’s work despite having to face the backlash over some of the latter’s decisions.
“I was generally satisfied with Thomas’ work. He explained to me that there was no case against the so-called supporters of LTTE.
“I accepted his explanation and wrote to the then Minister of Home Affairs Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. He dropped the case. The anger of the Malays against me was terrible,” Dr Mahathir said.
On Jan 31, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air lawyer questioned Thomas’ slammed tell-all in his 573-page book, accusing the veteran practitioner of disrespecting attorney-client privilege and the non-disclosure agreement.
The memoir also sparked some other controversies including the allegation that former solicitor-general III Datuk Mohamad Hanafiah Zakaria is deemed unfit or not capable to lead and supervise the prosecution team in one of Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s corruption cases in 2018.
Subsequently, Mohamad Hanafiah lodged a police report, stating that the book had tarnished his image as a deputy public prosecutor who had served for 33 years.