KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he was unsuccessful in forming a unity government last year after the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration he led, due to the perception that he was a “dictator”.
Musing on how Malaysia would have turned out if he had managed to get a unity government together, the former prime minister said he ultimately failed to get sufficient numbers of MPs to back him for such a cause.
Dr Mahathir said that it would have been his job as an interim prime minister to help set up a government where office bearers would be appointed regardless of their political affiliations, but asserted that other politicians could only see the interests of their political parties instead of the nation’s.
“I thought we should all forget about our parties and think about the nation. So I told all party heads that we should have a Unity Government and parties should forget their individual agenda. We should also bring in non-politicians into the government,” he said in a blog post, referring to his unity government proposal that he had also announced in a television broadcast on February 26.
Having stepped down on February 24, 2020 as prime minister following a series of events sparked by the infamous “Sheraton Move”, Dr Mahathir was appointed on the same day by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to be interim prime minister while waiting for a new prime minister to be appointed and a new Cabinet to be formed.
The Langkawi MP noted that the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein had as the head of Malaysia’s National Operations Council ― formed after the May 13, 1969 racial riots ― sought to bring all the opposition parties into the government.
“He succeeded with Gerakan, PAS and SUPP. But DAP refused. Still he felt justified in naming the new coalition, the National Front or Barisan Nasional,” Dr Mahathir said.
Recalling Razak’s efforts, Dr Mahathir said he thought that something similar was needed for Malaysia.
“But I failed because Kit Siang said I was trying to become a dictator. He supported Anwar as the PH candidate. Had the 92 votes gone to me I would have 154 votes. You can imagine what direction the nation would take when all parties put the nation first,” he said, referring to DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara form the Pakatan Harapan coalition, which Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia was formerly a member before its pullout resulted in the collapse of the PH federal government and led to Dr Mahathir’s resignation as prime minister on February 24, 2020.
Days after Dr Mahathir’s February 26 public suggestion of a unity government and after several names were floated as candidates to be prime minister by different political groups, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was on March 1 sworn in as the country’s eighth prime minister.