Muhyiddin set on taking Bersatu out of PH despite Dr Mahathir having reservations about the move.
In a video aired on Facebook, Dr Mahathir Mohamad explained a viralled photo showing him with leaders of the then opposition parties, including Umno and PAS, as well as former PKR deputy president Azmin Ali.
“The meeting (in the photo) was held after the Bersatu supreme council meeting to discuss the leadership’s decision.”
Dr Mahathir said party president Muhyiddin Yassin and leaders from Umno, PAS, Parti Warisan Sabah, PKR and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) met at his house on February 23 after a Bersatu supreme council meeting that morning.
The former prime minister said he never agreed to Bersatu leaving Pakatan Harapan (PH) as it was part of the coalition which emerged victorious over the fight against Najib Abdul Razak.
“There was a suggestion for Bersatu to leave Harapan. I advised (them) to take time to think about this matter deeply.
“Eventually, they agreed to give me time. In fact, Muhyiddin (Yassin) gave me a week to make a decision.
“However, I saw that they had made a plan to leave Harapan,” he said.
“The meeting was arranged so that we could all go see the king at Istana Negara after it was suggested that Bersatu quit PH,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said after the meeting, the leaders went to Istana Negara to meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
“I did not go as I wanted to think deeply about the decision made at the Bersatu supreme council meeting,” he added.
He also revealed that Muhyiddin had on several occasions personally coaxed him to agree for the party to exit the coalition.
“I didn’t completely decline him, but I said that I would think about this matter.
“My view was that I’m part of Harapan which won the fight to topple Najib.
“Therefore, it’s weird for Bersatu, which had helped to topple Najib, to be suggested to work with him,” he said.
Dr Mahathir said he had no reason to reject PH despite talk that DAP was controlling the then-ruling coalition.
He said DAP could not have controlled PH as he would not have allowed it.
“I would never agree to any proposal that did not take into account the interests of all, especially the Malays,” he said.
The photo triggered speculation about the motives behind the meeting at Dr Mahathir’s residence, including that Zahid was trying to leverage his party’s numbers in Parliament to get Putrajaya to dump his court cases.
Zahid has said he and the other party presidents brought with them statutory declarations in support of Dr Mahathir as prime minister, denying that he produced court documents related to his cases.
Umno had backed a proposal for Dr Mahathir to remain as prime minister of a government that did not include DAP, Amanah and MPs loyal to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, he said.
The day after the meeting, Azmin and Muhyiddin took their factions out of PH, and joined forces with Umno, PAS, and a clutch of Sabah and Sarawak parties to form Perikatan Nasional.
After Dr Mahathir rejected PN’s offer to helm the new administration, it chose Muhyiddin as prime minister.
Today, Dr Mahathir and four other MPs who have had their memberships “stopped” by Bersatu are aligned with PH and Warisan in the opposition.