Ex-PMO officer breaks down the ‘Sheraton Move’

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad speaks during press conference in Yayasan Al-Bukhary, Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad speaks during press conference in Yayasan Al-Bukhary, Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 — A former officer in the Prime Minister’s Office has provided his version of events that led to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s resignation and the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government.

On Facebook, Adam Mukhriz Mohd Muhayeddin said the plot began unfolding in earnest on the fateful Sunday of February 23, after what appeared to be an uneventful PH presidential council meeting the Friday before.

“Azmin’s ‘Cartel’ met at Sheraton while Bersatu held a supreme council meeting. In that meeting, Tun refused to accept Umno (en bloc) as a component. Tun did not want Zahid, Azeez all entering.

“Are you crazy? We fought them tirelessly. Some are bound for jail and you want to accept them back and take over the government? On principle, Tun rejected this. Taking some MPs is fine, but not the whole party,” he wrote.

Some in the Bersatu supreme council backed Dr Mahathir’s position and he told the rest not to push him to abandon his principles, Adam said, when singling out the former PM’s political secretary Zahid Mat Arip as the one who pressed Dr Mahathir the hardest.

Dr Mahathir previously disclosed that it was his political secretary who led him to believe that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would demand to be the deputy prime minister, lighting the fuse to the entire debacle.

When Dr Mahathir remained unconvinced, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin went to the former PM’s home with Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, GPS chairman Datuk Patinggi Abang Abdul Rahman Johari Openg, and former PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, among others, to make their case.

Adam asserted that Ahmad Zahid also made demands of Dr Mahathir, including for a senior Cabinet role and his whole party to be accepted instead of piecemeal. He also demanded Dr Mahathir decide there and then.

“That night, the Sheraton Move took place. [Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor] came as though he were a minister and the crowds parted, all those gathered that night were fantasising of picking this ministry or that,” Adam wrote.

From there, matters devolved rapidly. On Monday, PH leaders rushed to meet Dr Mahathir at his office but he had not gone in as he was at home ruminating. When they finally found him, they were all certain Dr Mahathir was the villain of the episode, Adam said.

While they were later convinced otherwise, it was too late as Dr Mahathir already tendered his resignation as the prime minister and this was accepted by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Adam went on to assert that Dr Mahathir resigned as the PM because he did not want to lead the coalition that later became Perikatan Nasional, which he would have if the PH administration collapsed as it eventually did.

He also asserted that Dr Mahathir could not attend the PH presidential council meeting that night as he had no standing to do so with Bersatu already out of the coalition.

“For PH, they might have thought Tun was insincere for not going. So they nominated Anwar as PM,” he continued.

That set in motion events that ultimately prevented Dr Mahathir from showing his majority support to the Agong as he could no longer count PH’s 92 lawmakers in his camp.

He also tried to convene a special parliamentary sitting to resolve the impasse today but the Speaker refused, Adam added.

The rest of his account is known as these played out in public view, culminating in Muhyddin being sworn in as the eighth prime minister yesterday.

“The saddest part is Tun M losing the faith of the people including the MPs he thought were his friends. That is why he said he was betrayed. Yes. The worst betrayal,” he wrote.

The details of Adam’s version dovetails with what Dr Mahathir and PH leaders have said in public, but were interpreted differently at the time due to the lack of this added context.

Dr Mahathir revealed the crux of this during his final press conference as the interim prime minister last Thursday, after announcing the 2020 Economic Stimulus Package.

After a week of uncertainty and political intrigue, Muhyiddin emerged as the unexpected victor in what was initially thought to be a power struggle between Dr Mahathir and PKR president Anwar.

Muhyiddin was sworn in as the eighth prime minister of Malaysia yesterday but his position is not yet secure. PH is planning to test his level of support via a motion of no-confidence at the earliest opportunity in Parliament.

Allegiances also continue to shift as some of the lawmakers who declared for Muhyiddin and Dr Mahathir continue to alter their positions, making it difficult to conclusively determine who has the support they claim short of an open vote.


 

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