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29 February, 2020 02:12:17 PM / LAST MODIFIED: 29 February, 2020 04:22:28 PM


Mahathir offers himself as Malaysia PM candidate

Independent Online/The Straits Times
Mahathir offers himself as Malaysia PM candidate
Malaysia's interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Photo: AFP

In another plot twist to Malaysia's political drama, interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said he is back as PM candidate with the numerical support among lawmakers to form the next government.

In a statement issued on Saturday morning (Feb 29), Tun Dr Mahathir, 94, announced that he is "prepared to stand as prospective candidate for Prime Minister".

"This morning I had a meeting with leaders of Pakatan Harapan. I am now confident that I have the numbers needed to garner majority support in the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House)," he said, referring to Malaysia's House of Representatives.

The Lower House has 222 seats, with 112 needed to form government.

Immediately after, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition issued a statement declaring its support for Dr Mahathir as prime minister candidate.

"Pakatan is against any attempt at a backdoor government, especially those involving kleptocrats and traitors to the cause, which will destroy all efforts at reformation that has been carried out until now.

"Thus, to carry on with our fight, Pakatan has expressed full support behind Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as candidate for Prime Minister.

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"Pakatan holds true to the principle and will continue to fight for our manifesto in Government."

Mr Anwar Ibrahim, representing PH, handed in a letter of support to the palace nominating Dr Mahathir as the pact’s choice for premiership.

Posting on Twitter, he said: “I am touched by the support given to me, however I have chosen to prioritise national interest over personal ones”.

PH has 93 lawmakers from three parties - Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Amanah Negara.

At noon, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Amanah's president Mohamad Sabu were seen exiting the palace after an hour inside. No remarks were given to the press.

Bersatu lawmaker and Dr Mahathir loyalist, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman tweeted a video statement on Saturday morning as well.

“I will never work together with the corrupt… This isn’t about party or majority but about identity and integrity. My stand may not be accepted by certain politicians but politicians come and go, Malaysians are the true owners of this country,” the MP said.

Dr Mahathir also denied reports that he supports Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Muhyiddin Yassin's candidacy.

"As I had repeatedly stated, I am against any form of cooperation with individuals who are known to be corrupt and was part of the kleptocratic administration which the Pakatan Harapan Government had worked hard to rid off.

"As a matter of principle I had conveyed this to the Bersatu Members of Parliament in the meeting yesterday.

"I did not sign any Statutory Declaration in support of any individual."

Dr Mahathir is part of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. Bersatu exited PH alliance on Monday and named its president Muhyiddin as its prime minister candidate of choice on Friday.

With the departure of Bersatu’s 26 lawmakers from the coalition and the exit of 10 lawmakers from PKR - led by former PKR deputy president Azmin Ali - the PH government collapsed without a 112 MPs majority.

On Monday itself, Dr Mahathir resigned as prime minister but was made interim PM while lawmakers decide among themselves who can command the widest support to form government.

The past week has seen multiple u-turns, with nearly all political parties with representatives in Parliament backing Dr Mahathir as PM on Monday. However, that support immediately fell apart after the 94-year-old pushed for a nonpartisan government, a move that was balked by parties from both sides.

Umno and PAS retracted their support and began calling for snap polls, while PH came out to back PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as PM candidate. By midweek, neither side could win the numbers game.

By Friday, new allegiances appear as foes began to join hands. Starting with Bersatu stating its support for party president Muhyiddin Yassin as PM candidate. The Bersatu meeting was attended by the party’s MPs and the 10 quitters from PKR.

Umno and PAS soon backtracked on their wish to hold elections, and throw their bets on naming Tan Sri Muhyiddin as their PM candidate as well. The Malay-centric partnership was gaining ground with expectations that Borneo parties in Sabah and Sarawak that had previously supported Dr Mahathir would now join hands with Mr Muhyiddin as well.

However, Saturday’s statement by Dr Mahathir and PH has given the Malay pact a major setback. PH and Dr Mahathir still do not have the 112 needed, but if Parti Warisan Sabah comes along with its 9 MPs and several from Bersatu follows Dr Mahathir - Malaysia may just come back with a PH government after all.




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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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