Dr M explains why he wants to be PM for third time, and won’t accept being ‘minister mentor’

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has the distinction of being Malaysia’s prime minister twice, today said he aspired to the position again because his past successors have ignored his advice in governing the country. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has the distinction of being Malaysia’s prime minister twice, today said he aspired to the position again because his past successors have ignored his advice in governing the country. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who has the distinction of being Malaysia’s prime minister twice, today said he aspired to the position again instead of as an advisor because his past successors have ignored his advice in governing the country.

“My experience is, when I tried to give the prime minister advice, they will reject me and will not heed my words. Just like former prime ministers Datuk Seri Abdullah, Datuk Seri Najib and now Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin,” he told Chinese-language newspaper Sin Chew Daily in an exclusive interview today when explaining why he did not want to take on an advisory role as “minister mentor”.

He was referring to Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who succeeded him in 2003 and who was succeeded in turn by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Dr Mahathir later became seventh PM in 2018 under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) banner, but resigned about four months ago following the coalition’s collapse and was replaced by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Dr Mahathir is now seeking to oust the Bersatu president and take his place as the ninth PM.

According to Sin Chew Daily, Dr Mahathir said he wanted to be prime minister for the third time to “correct” the alleged corrupt acts under the Najib and Muhyiddin governments.

Dr Mahathir also told Sin Chew that he is not willing to accept the advisory role of “minister mentor” if Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim became prime minister, noting that Malaysian PMs prefer to carve out their own legacy instead of listening to his advice.

“The prime minister wants to show he is in control of everything, all the ideas come from him, he wants to leave his own political legacy, he cannot say: ‘Ok, my political legacy comes from Mahathir’,” he said.

Malaysia has never had a minister mentor. The position was created in neighbouring Singapore for the late Lee Kuan Yew when his son Lee Hsien Loong became PM in 2011.

The minister mentor role was first floated in an interview Anwar had with Singapore-based Channel News Asia.

Dr Mahathir also reportedly said he wanted the PM post for one year, but the idea was not favoured by Anwar, and so he proposed halving it to six months.

“After six months, I will withdraw, I won’t be prime minister anymore, I’m already old. You know, I am already very old, I am very, very old,” he was quoted saying.

In the interview with Sin Chew, Dr Mahathir was reported saying he will find new ways to oust the Muhyiddin-led Perikatan Nasional (PN) government.

In the interview, Dr Mahathir confirmed that he would still be bringing a motion for a vote of no confidence in Muhyiddin as the prime minister when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes next month.

If denied the chance to bring the vote of no-confidence in Parliament, Dr Mahathir reportedly said he intends to have the PN government’s Budget tabling in Parliament fail.

The Dewan Rakyat is scheduled to have its second meeting for 25 days from July 13 to August 27, while the Dewan Rakyat’s third meeting this year is scheduled for 26 days from November 2 to December 15. The government is scheduled to table its Budget 2021 speech on November 6.

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