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KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has confirmed today the authenticity of a two-hour recording allegedly of the Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) presidential council meeting which took place on February 21.
“I have listened to the tape, although I do not know whether it has been cropped or edited but as a person who was present at that time, it is accurate. What is spoken is not untrue, but it could not have happened without the scheming of some individuals,” he said during a Facebook Live session here in response to the supposed leaked recording.
The tape, which has been making the rounds on social media, revealed two opposing factions — one insisting on a clear timeline for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to step down for Anwar, with the other saying that talks about the transition of power had undermined the coalition’s credibility.
Following the meeting’s conclusion, the PH presidential council subsequently gave its full backing to Dr Mahathir to set the exact date to hand over duties to Anwar.
Dr Mahahir, who was then Prime Minister, had said the council unanimously agreed to leave the time frame for the power transition to him, reiterating only that it will happen after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Summit in November.
Anwar explained that no one had disputed Dr Mahathir’s position as prime minister at that time.
“At first they said it was one year, then two years then after APEC. I agreed to all of them but this did not satisfy some individuals to the point of them even exclaiming that if it's possible to delay the power transition agreement ‘forever’.
“This is the worst and most disgusting political twist in history,” he said, adding that he has consistently accepted any form of criticism leveled against him with an open heart on the power transition issue.
However, Anwar said he took a moderate approach throughout the meeting, not wanting to stoke tensions by pressuring Dr Mahathir to hand over the reins.
“Traitors will be traitors. No matter what we do, they will betray eventually because their plan was not to save Dr Mahathir but to betray the agreement by PH.
“I’ve known them for many years and I have never believed their claim of defending Dr Mahathir.
“This audio tape is true and I myself was present. As far as all of us are concerned, the betrayal is a disrespectful behavior which also revealed their true intentions of implementing reforms (in the government),” he said.
While he did not name anyone, Anwar is believed to have been referring to former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and those aligned to him, who subsequently defected to form a new federal government involving Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as well as other parties such as PH foes Barisan Nasional and PAS.
Two days after the PH presidential council meeting, Azmin’s faction and their new allies met at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya, the same location where PH had announced its victory less than two years ago. This event eventually became known as the “Sheraton Move“.
In a chain of events that followed, the 2020 political crisis eventually saw the PH coalition losing federal power and becoming the federal Opposition, with new Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin sworn in on March 1.
“We made a promise. I don’t want to renege on a promise. Yet when it came to the February 21 meeting, several Bersatu and Keadilan traitors were found scheming, making loud demands and objecting to any views on the power transition issue.
“Because of this scheme, the one that suffered the most was Bersatu. But that is an issue for them to address,” he said.
Meanwhile, Anwar who is also PH chairman, said PH was committed to its principles and struggles of reform despite its shortcomings.
“Yes we are uneasy with the betrayal of Perikatan Nasional. Yes, we feel they are worse off now with the spiralling unemployment and inflation. What do they do? They distribute wealth, position and power like the spoils of war.
“But what is our excuse for change? We can only change if we have the sheer determination to do better,” he said.