KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — Having Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad serve a full five-year term as prime minister is not Umno’s official stance, its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi told reporters in Parliament today.
The Bagan Datuk MP said his Opposition party respects the current government, but is not officially endorsing the Bersatu chairman to remain prime minister amid the ongoing spotlight of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) succession plan, even if some Umno lawmakers are for it.
“That’s not Umno’s official stance and I respect people’s personal opinions,” Zahid said.
Several Umno MPs told reporters in Parliament earlier that they want Dr Mahathir to serve out a full five years till the next general election, saying a change in government leadership mid-stream will disrupt the country’s economy.
Among them were Tenggara MP Datuk Seri Adham Baba and Kuala Kangsar MP Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid.
Adham pointed to Malaysia’s plunge to 80th place in the latest World Happiness Index from 35th spot last year and claimed it showed Malaysians were increasingly unhappy with PH’s power transition plan, adding that they felt it would not take place in the end.
“It’s the constant politicking that’s caused disarray among the people. So I feel Mahathir should continue and we try to recover the economy,” he said.
Mastura said the current government is facing a lot of problems and that it was better not to change leaders mid-term.
“I feel Dr Mahathir can continue to help and continue efforts to help the country despite many saying otherwise,” she said.
Zahid said his fellow Umno MPs have a right to express their personal view, and that Umno will continue as is under the current PH rule.
The Umno leader who is also chairman of the three-party Barisan Nasional coalition was also asked to comment on rumours that former vice-president Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein is working secretly on a backdoor deal to form government with Dr Mahathir.
“As I mentioned last Saturday, these suggestions are just speculation.
“As a democratic country, I am confident in our system and that we form the government through general elections. This is the basis for forming our government,” Zahid said.
“In this case, we can’t say these speculations are a reality and if there is concern from any party I want to say don’t be worried.
“Speculation cannot come to fruition if only one hand is clapping,” he added.
The dateless PH succession plan that would see PKR president succeed Dr Mahathir mid-term has set tongues wagging of an internal power struggle within the ruling coalition and spurred speculation of a new alliance of Malay parties led by Hishammuddin to potentially form a new government without DAP and Amanah.