The refusal of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s leadership to listen to its chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the main cause of the party’s split into two opposing factions, said supreme council member Datuk A Kadir Jasin.
In a lengthy opinion piece on his blog, the veteran journalist claimed that during the fateful February 23 meeting, many Bersatu leaders were no longer interested in listening to Dr Mahathir’s pleadings that he had the support of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council.
“The narrative which led to the supporters of (Bersatu president) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin taking the party out of Pakatan included the belief that Bersatu must become the biggest Malay-Bumiputera party in Malaysia by taking over the now-damaged Umno’s role,” he said.
Kadir added many also believed Bersatu cannot gain Malay-Bumiputera support so long as it cooperated with DAP, and to a lesser extent, PKR in PH, due to its sizeable non-Malay membership.
“There was also the opinion that Bersatu must leave Pakatan to save Dr Mahathir from being insulted by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s supporters who sought to have their ‘idol’ immediately take over the reins of power, as well as the assumption that DAP cannot be trusted to support and defend Dr Mahathir.
“This is despite Dr Mahathir pleading with council members to not make a hasty decision to leave Pakatan. He did not lie when he said the Pakatan presidential council meeting on February 21 granted him a full mandate as prime minister until after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference had concluded (in November) yet this was pointedly ignored,” he said.
Kadir said the veracity of Dr Mahathir’s claims became even more evident after Bersatu left PH and the coalition’s government collapsed, when several PH leaders spoke to the press.
The latter were reported as saying how in the lead-up to the night of February 29, when Dr Mahathir once again became the prime ministerial candidate, it was decided that Anwar would not join the Cabinet and whether DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng would be dropped altogether or no longer finance minister.
“This means there was broad compromise among Pakatan leaders that Dr Mahathir would be given room to take action so the coalition could continue with a parliamentary majority.
“Yet, the Bersatu supreme council meeting on February 23 will live on as a date of betrayal, in which the majority of its members became drunk on power and lost strategic reasoning,” he said.
Things became heated enough that Kadir claimed Dr Mahathir’s political secretary at the time, Muhammad Zahid Mat Arip, slammed the table and said that, for the first time, he supported Muhyiddin, despite his previous dislike of the party president.
“After Bersatu left Pakatan, is it now more powerful and more respected? Are the Malays joining in droves? Is Umno now utterly destroyed? Is the expulsion of Bersatu assemblyman Sahruddin Jamal as Johor mentri besar and his replacement by Umno’s Datuk Hasni Mohammad a sign of Bersatu’s strength and success, post-Pakatan?
“Or was it the strategy of Muhyiddin and his supporters all along to hand back Johor to Umno? Strong and brave? If Bersatu is strong along with Perikatan Nasional, then why not announce how many MPs have signed statutory declarations in support? If they are strong, why postpone the Parliamentary sitting from March 9 to May 18?” he questioned.
Kadir said, ultimately, it is not only Bersatu MPs, state excos and assemblymen who have lost out, but also everyone nominated by Bersatu and PH who may now lose their posts to Umno and PAS. – MMO