KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS have withdrawn their support for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to be prime minister after learning of his plan to form a unity government that would cover the full political spectrum.
In a press conference today, Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said that the statutory declarations (SD) that BN and PAS lawmakers signed affirming support for Dr Mahathir and sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong were void.
He explained that the affirmation was contingent on Dr Mahathir excluding DAP in any new administration.
“Therefore, our stand in this situation is that the mandate has to be given back to the people, and Parliament has to be dissolved.
“Let the people decide,” he said, adding that anything short of a general election would harm the nation’s future.
Annuar said Umno and PAS had conveyed their decisions to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong this morning, during their meeting.
Separately, PAS also said it would not join any coalition government that included DAP.
The two parties which formed a working relationship called Muafakat Nasional last year, held a joint press conference at the Umno headquarters today.
Annuar said that a unity government would clash with the Opposition’s policies.
He added that support for whoever is prime minister “must be based on party support and not individual”.
He disagreed with the notion for Cabinet members to be appointed based on their personal merit rather than according to party lines.
PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said a unity government looks good on paper, but may not necessarily suit Malaysia and would concentrate “absolute power” in the hands of an individual.
“Because the prime minister will have the absolute power to pick who he wants to fill the seats in his Cabinet. It does not necessarily have to be people who are from parties aligned to him.
“He can determine who is qualified and if Dr Mahathir doesn’t think you are fit, he won’t want.
“It will no longer be party-based. The parties will no longer have the power. The power would solely belong to the prime minister,” Takiyuddin said.
News agency Reuters had earlier cited anonymous sources saying the interim prime minister was looking to form a government without a single dominant party.
Dr Mahathir was promptly appointed interim prime minister by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday after resigning from the same office.
Malaysia has been in political upheaval since the weekend following a Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council meeting that was to iron out the next transition of power from Dr Mahathir to PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Since then, Bersatu has pulled out from PH, leaving three parties in the coalition.
Eleven MPs, including Anwar’s then party number two Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, also quit PKR to form an independent bloc that has yet to be named.
The Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah is interviewing the country’s federal lawmakers to determine who among them commanded the support of the majority needed to become the prime minister.
As of today, 90 MPs have met the King, leaving 132 to be interviewed tomorrow.