Tun M: I couldn’t just quit and let things go wrong

The 96-year-old politician says it would be wrong for him to ignore wrongdoings by the govt while people keep asking him to make things right

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

FORMER prime minister (PM) and the pro tem chairman of the yet-to-register Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture), said he will continue to be in the political arena for as long as he can and serve the nation.

The 96-year-old politician said it would be wrong for him to ignore any wrongdoings or mistakes made by the government while people keep asking him to make things right.

Dr Mahathir said when he stepped down as the fourth PM in 2003, many people went to him to express their dissatisfaction towards his successor’s actions, which were not good for the country.

“When I resigned, I was hoping that I could rest and enjoy my life. But just a week after my resignation, people came to ask me to do something.

“They thought that the PM at that time did not carry out his duty accordingly and the people who came to see me continued to say that I needed to do something.

“I tried to advise but they did not listen, so I quit the party and fought them,” he said in an interview broadcasted by Sinar Harian yesterday.

Dr Mahathir, said more importantly, he wanted to contribute his vast knowledge and ideas to develop the country.

The Langkawi MP officially returned from his retirement during the 14th General Election in 2018 to be part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition comprising his former foes including PKR founder Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang.

The coalition, led by Dr Mahathir himself, made history when they ended Barisan Nasional’s 61-year rule.

Some PH lawmakers from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and a faction of PKR MPs, however, decided to leave the coalition last year which ended the 22-month old government.

Dr Mahathir, who did not agree with the move, has had his Bersatu membership nullified and subsequently formed another fresh Malay-based party, Pejuang.

Dr Mahathir warned that Malaysia could be a failed state, as the level of corruption has reached a point where a government can be formed with money.

He said although corruption has been in practice since the past decades, it was never used to buy MPs to establish a government.

“At that time, when corruption occurred at the division levels, we were still able to stop them. It was not so bad that you could use it to form a government.

“Instead, I warned them that this practice would cause the people to reject us,” said Dr Mahathir, who was Umno president for 22 years during his first stint as PM from 1981 to 2003.

Dr Mahathir left Umno in 2008 to pressure Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to resign, as the former viewed that his successor’s decision-making was not made in the nation’s best interest.

Dr Mahathir rejoined Umno after Abdullah passed the premiership baton to the sixth PM Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak, but the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal, again, caused Dr Mahathir to go against his own party — this time with a formal coalition with PH through the newly founded Bersatu party.

Dr Mahathir acknowledged that for decades, Umno had contributed to the Malays and the nation, but he could not tolerate the party’s loyalty towards some corrupt leaders — which was against his principle.

More recently, Dr Mahathir had advised current PM Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to listen to professionals instead of politicians in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic and resolving the health and economic crises.

Muhyiddin, Dr Mahathir said, seemed to be more preoccupied with staying in power instead of the global health crisis.

Asked if he would consider returning to Umno, Dr Mahathir said: “If Umno can commit to returning to what they were fighting for, namely the religion, nation, and race, I could go back. But I cannot work with corrupted people.

“I loved Umno and was the president for 22 years.”


Read our previous report here

Dr Mahathir: Emergency proclamation not valid