KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reportedly said that he will no longer seek to work with PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after the latter’s party refused to back him for the prime minister post.
But the former prime minister also told vernacular paper Sin Chew Daily that he would continue to work with DAP and Parti Amanah Negara to return their alliance to power.
“I will not work with him (Anwar), because he does not want to work with me, I have to find other ways to be prime minister, there could still be other methods,” he was quoted saying in the exclusive interview this morning.
Sin Chew Daily also reported Dr Mahathir indicating that he would exit PH Plus — the pact consisting of the three Pakatan Harapan parties and his group of five MPs and Parti Warisan Sabah.
The group was said to be working to muster sufficient MPs to make the majority in Parliament.
Sin Chew Daily reported Dr Mahathir saying he would no longer get in touch with PKR or Anwar for discussions on working together.
But as for DAP and Amanah, Dr Mahathir reportedly said that these two parties supported his bid to be prime minister again as they believed he could galvanise the Malay into supporting their alliance.
Dr Mahathir pointed out that these two parties were used to being in the federal Opposition, having failed to win federal power previously in the 2008 and 2013 elections.
Dr Mahathir went on to say that PH managed to win in Election 2018 after he joined their pact, attributing this success to the pact having sufficient Malay support then.
“Therefore, they are clear that they need Malay votes to win, so they felt that I can bring in Malay votes, as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia is a Malay party, others are multiracial parties, Malays won’t support multiracial parties,” the Bersatu founder was quoted saying.
In recent days, news emerged of two options that had been discussed by PH Plus, namely to have Anwar as the loose pact’s candidate as prime minister; or to alternatively have Dr Mahathir be the candidate to serve as prime minister for six months while Anwar temporarily holds the deputy prime minister post before succeeding Dr Mahathir.
However, Anwar has made it clear that he could not accept the proposal to temporarily be deputy to Dr Mahathir again for a six-month period, indicating mistrust due to past negative experiences and as the resulting policy uncertainties would hamper efforts to carry out reforms and steer the country’s economy amid Covid-19.
Anwar has, however, indicated he was open to Dr Mahathir playing an advisory role as minister mentor, as had been practised in Singapore when the late Lee Kuan Yew gave up his post as prime minister and took on advisory roles in the Cabinet as senior minister and subsequently minister mentor.
Anwar was sacked in the 1990s as deputy prime minister during Mahathir’s administration, while Dr Mahathir had appeared to delay in handing over the prime minister post to Anwar as promised and had previously indicated in February that he would only decide on when to pass the baton after Malaysia’s hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit this November.
Yesterday, DAP and Amanah sought to reconcile PKR with Dr Mahathir’s group and Warisan over their differences in opinions, with PKR still insisting on Anwar as the federal opposition’s candidate for prime minister while the other groups had agreed to back Dr Mahathir due to the belief that he could muster the support of the minimum 112 MPs required.
DAP and Amanah yesterday proposed to have a written agreement for Dr Mahathir to hand on the prime minister post to Anwar after six months, and to have the agreement signed by all party leaders and announced publicly.
Those in the PH Plus grouping had formed federal government together in the May 2018 elections, but the PH administration collapsed just slightly less than two years later after a series of events in February — namely Bersatu’s withdrawal, the defection of several PKR MPs to the new Perikatan Nasional coalition, and the resignation of Dr Mahathir then as prime minister.
Dr Mahathir, who together with the four other MPs in his faction insist they are still part of Bersatu despite the party’s termination of their memberships, has reportedly sought to be prime minister again since the February events.
Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is currently prime minister under the PN coalition.