Responding to photo of political gathering, Dr Mahathir insists wouldn’t have made sense for Bersatu to partner with Umno when party campaigned to remove Najib

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference at Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana in Putrajaya May 18, 2020.  — Picture by Choo Choy May
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference at Yayasan Kepimpinan Perdana in Putrajaya May 18, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that the proposal for the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) to ally with Umno was strange as his party expressly campaigned to remove the latter party’s Datuk Seri Najib Razak from power in the 14th general election.

In a video clip on his official Facebook page, Dr Mahathir said that PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had prior to February 23, 2020 allegedly raised the proposal for PPBM to pull out from the PH coalition that was helming the federal government then.

The disputed Bersatu chairman posted the video today to provide his version of events from a photograph of major political party leaders gathered at his home in February before the Pakatan Harapan government collapsed.

“But before this, Tan Sri Muhyiddin came to meet me alone repeatedly, and asked me to agree with the Bersatu party pulling out from Pakatan Harapan. I did not reject him; just that I said that I will think about this matter.

“But I did not agree to pull out because at that time, I was of the view that I am from the Pakatan Harapan party that won in the struggle to bring down Datuk Seri Najib. So I thought it was quite odd for Bersatu — that rejected and brought down Najib — to be proposed to work together with Najib. So that is my decision, it’s not that I had ever stated that I will leave Pakatan Harapan,” Dr Mahathir said in the video clip that was 5.03 minutes-long.

Dr Mahathir said that the very idea of PPBM quitting the PH coalition that it had been part of was shocking, before going on to rubbish any attempts to use arguments blaming DAP’s purported role to justify such a proposal.

“This proposal shocked me as the Pakatan Harapan party is a party that is participated by PPBM and fought to bring down Najib until Pakatan Harapan succeeded.

“There is no reason why I would want to reject Pakatan Harapan, although I have heard talks of Pakatan Harapan being controlled by DAP. I find that it would be impossible for DAP to control Pakatan Harapan, because it is not possible that I as the prime minister would have agreed with any proposals that do not give considerations to all quarters, especially towards the Malays,” he added.

Earlier in the same video clip, Dr Mahathir explained the photograph showing several political leaders at his house on February 23, including Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, Muhyiddin, then PKR deputy president and now PPBM member Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) duo Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is seen with Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof. — Picture via Facebook
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is seen with Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof. — Picture via Facebook

Dr Mahathir said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss what the PPBM supreme council had decided in its earlier meeting, with the intention being for those who attended the meeting at his house to subsequently seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

But Dr Mahathir said he had asked the PPBM supreme council in that meeting to take time to think about the proposal raised in the council for the party to quit Pakatan Harapan since it was a serious matter, adding that the party supreme council had agreed to allow time for Dr Mahathir to decide and that Muhyiddin himself had allegedly given a one-week period for this purpose.

“But it appears that they had already plotted to carry out the pull-out from Pakatan Harapan,” Dr Mahathir said, with the video clip then showing an excerpt of a recently-leaked audio clip that purportedly showed Muhyiddin as proposing for one week for Dr Mahathir to consider the proposal and with a chorus of voices in agreement heard.

“After the meeting at my house, these party leaders then went to the palace for an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong but I did not go. I wished to think deeply about the decision made by PPBM’s supreme council. That is what happened,” Dr Mahathir said in the video clip today.

Various versions of accounts of what actually took place at the meeting shown in the photograph have surfaced, including Dr Mahathir’s former press officer stating that Dr Mahathir had the party leaders think that there was no need to seek an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, while Zahid had claimed that a proposal was raised for Dr Mahathir to create a “Unity Government” without Pakatan Harapan parties DAP, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim-led PKR and Parti Amanah Negara.

Events on February 23 later sparked a week-long political crisis in Malaysia, which saw the PH government collapse after PPBM pulled out from PH and after Azmin and 10 other MPs parted ways with PKR, and ultimately saw a new federal government installed under Muhyiddin’s leadership as the new and eighth prime minister.

Dr Mahathir had on multiple occasions highlighted his refusal to work with ”thieves” or with allegedly political parties defeated in the 2018 general election particularly Umno, in line with his long campaign against Najib and the latter’s party Umno due to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) financial scandal during the Najib administration.

In his second stint as prime minister until late February 2020, Dr Mahathir had heavily stressed the need to fight corruption and had in January 2019 unveiled the country’s National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) 2019-2023, with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) also having then set up a portal with the names of MPs who had declared their assets and the value of their assets.

Following the 2018 elections, multiple Umno leaders including its former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, its current president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were brought to court to face corruption charges, with many of them undergoing trial.

Umno is now part of the new government via the Perikatan Nasional coalition.

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