KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Perikatan Nasional (PN) was initially mooted by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad during the political impasse in February this year, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has said.
In an interview with English daily The Star, Azmin asserted that the original intention of the coalition was to allow the nonagenarian to govern while empowered by solid bipartisan MP support.
Azmin explained that during the fateful week last February, a total of 131 MPs had initially signed statutory declarations which were sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong declaring their support for Dr Mahathir, a day before the latter decided to resign from his position.
“It was all for one name as the prime minister — Dr Mahathir.
“We were then trying very hard to make sure that Dr Mahathir would continue to serve as the prime minister,” he said.
He said party leaders were then forced into action from the instability triggered by Dr Mahathir’s resignation, leading to the eventual formation of PN who later nominated Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as their prime minister.
“If Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin didn’t act within that small window, someone else could have rushed to the palace and pressured the palace in order to become the prime minister. I would not have allowed that to happen,” he said without elaborating who he was referring to.
“The only option for me and Muhyiddin then was to leave Pakatan,” said the former PKR vice president.
Azmin said efforts then carried on for a week, in what has become to be known as the Sheraton Move, to obtain enough support to make government, numbers Dr Mahathir only managed to get on Friday once the King had already declared Muhyiddin enjoyed the majority support.
“So I told Dr Mahathir that in any democratic system, you need the numbers. If you go to elections, you need numbers. You go to Parliament, you need numbers. You go to the palace, you need the numbers.
“If you don’t have the numbers, there is nothing much we can do. As there was no Parliament sitting then, under the Federal Constitution, the King had to decide who had the support of the majority to be PM.
“Finally, Muhyiddin got that majority. Of course, we came in as a new government, not through an election but through a political crisis. But that crisis came about because this man tendered his resignation.
“If Dr Mahathir had not tendered his resignation that Monday, he would still be prime minister with a bigger majority,” said Azmin.
The Gombak MP added that it was for this reason that he bristled at the suggestion that PN is a backdoor government, saying the opportunity to govern was given to them by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong following the collapse of Pakatan Harapan, rendering such accusations invalid.
“The King opened the door for us to come in so it was not a back-door government,” he quipped.
“Perikatan is not a backdoor government as there was a vacancy (in the prime minister’s post). I did not suggest at that time — (that) if it (Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad resigning) did not happen then — that we knock on the door and take him out and we go in.
“That was not the plan or case,” Azmin explained in the report.
He however still gushed over his admiration for Dr Mahathir, saying he regarded the veteran politician as a father figure, and that he still shared much respect, love, and affection for the 95-year-old.
Azmin then urged people to get behind Muhyiddin, claiming he has so far done a good job in mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic and reviving the economy.