KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shot back today at critics who accused him of blocking Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from becoming prime minister, blaming instead 92 MPs who chose the PKR president, thereby causing a division in the ranks and the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.
In a lengthy blog post, the former prime minister gave his account of the political crisis that led to the “Sheraton Move” that ended PH’s hold on Putrajaya after just 22 months.
Dr Mahathir claimed he would have had 158 federal lawmakers behind him had Anwar not directed all 92 parliamentarians from PKR, DAP, and Amanah to nominate him instead, which would have given the coalition a comfortable majority to return to power.
“If all three PH parties had nominated me as their candidate I would have had 158 votes in addition to the 66 MPs that supported me.
“But because the 92 voted for Anwar, I lost and so did Anwar,” he wrote.
Staying in power meant the coalition could have been able to proceed with the succession plan that would see Anwar take over, Dr Mahathir asserted, instead of having Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition take over as government.
Now in a new party called Pejuang, the Langkawi MP reiterated that he is still willing to set aside his personal differences with Anwar if it would lead to an amicable solution for the nation’s sake.
The 95-year-old Dr Mahathir said he could still muster the support to regain Putrajaya with the backing of all PH lawmakers, including PKR.
He said he had laid out a plan to make way for Anwar after six months should the party agree.
Anwar, however, has rejected the offer.
“It was proposed that I hold the prime minister post for six months before handing it over to Anwar. Members of Amanah and the DAP had agreed,” Dr Mahthir wrote.
“But Anwar rejected it. Anwar did not want to be involved with me at all. But if I am given space, my supporters will not back the idea of supporting PH.”
It is understood that Amanah and the DAP had agreed to nominate Anwar on the promise that he could secure the parliamentary majority to form a new government, which the Opposition leader recently claimed to have.
Some of the supporting MPs are rumoured to be from Umno although that is now uncertain after its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his party would continue to back PN for the time being.
Dr Mahathir said he doubted Anwar’s insistence on having majority support since he has yet to become prime minister.
“We all know that Anwar is still not the prime minister. His statement that he has the numbers is untrue. I have no place in his calculations,” he said.
“Even as I have been sidelined by him clearly he hasn’t won.”