Only two vocal individuals called for Mahathir to step down – a three-term Amanah leader and a DAP minister, while Azmin Ali allegedly proposed for the 94-year-old to serve a full term as prime minister.
A news portal’s mistaken identity may have led it to name Amanah president Mohamad Sabu as one of a few Pakatan Harapan leaders last night who were vocal in calling for Dr Mahathir Mohamad to fix a date for his departure.
Malaysiakini, quoting unnamed sources, reported that Mohamad or Mat Sabu, who is also the defence minister, had scoffed at a threat by PPBM to quit the coalition if Amanah and DAP continued to pressure Mahathir to hand over power to Anwar Ibrahim.
“Mat Sabu said ‘if that is your decision we have no problem with it, we are used being in the opposition’,” the portal wrote.
The claim has since been strongly denied by Mat Sabu, with his political secretary Azhar Mat Dali describing it as mere speculation.
“I wish to reiterate that Mohamad Sabu had nothing to do with speculative tales being spread (on the PH meeting last night),” he said.
In a statement, Azhar said the Defence Minister did not compel the prime minister to set a date as alleged by a source quoted in the news report.
“It is purely speculation and all writing in the article that is linked to his name did not come from Mohamad Sabu’s side. The minister has always and will always abide by a strict principle of keeping matters discussed confidential,” Azhar said.
When pressed further, Azhar refused to divulge details of what actually transpired in the two-hour meeting chaired by Mahathir and attended by all top PH leaders.
A reliable source confirmed Azhar’s denial, saying the portal “got it completely wrong about the identity of those who were vocal in calling for Mahathir to limit his term”.
“The only two vocal individuals there (in calling for Mahathir to step down) were a three-term Amanah leader from the Klang Valley, and another from DAP who is a minister,” the source told FMT.
Another source close to Mohamad also told The Malaysian Insight that the Amanah leader did not pressure Dr Mahathir to set a clear date nor did he issue a threat to Bersatu.
“It did not happen. The minister did not force the PM to set a clear date and he did not say that Amanah and DAP had no problem if Bersatu wanted to leave PH,” the source said.
Malaysiakini quoted sources who said Bersatu leaders told the PH presidential council meeting last night that the party was ready to leave the coalition if the other parties continued to press for a power transition date.
Anwar’s factional rivals in PKR led by party deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali allegedly also threw their support behind Mahathir during the meeting.
According to the report, one of the sources said: “He (Azmin) proposed for Mahathir to serve a full term as prime minister.”
After the meeting, a beaming Azmin allegedly declared: “(I am) smiling because the prime minister was firm on guaranteeing the nation’s economic and political stability.”
The news portal said the only Bersatu leader who took a more diplomatic position was Muhyiddin Yassin, who had suggested that the issue of transition should be sorted out between Anwar and Mahathir instead of other leaders getting involved.
The report said as the leaders argued, Mahathir was calm and attentive throughout the meeting, according to the third source who was inside the meeting.
Malaysiakini reported that in a bid to diffuse the argument, the sources said Anwar asked that Mahathir be allowed to decide the date for the transition after the Apec meetings in November.
Reportedly, seeing that Anwar was taking a step back, both Amanah and DAP then concurred.
On Twitter, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad from Amanah said PH’s decision last night was a blow to attempts by Umno and PAS to break apart the coalition.
But political blogger Firdaus Abdullah, whose Twitter account is followed by the prime minister’s press office, appeared to suggest that the federal territories minister was the Amanah leader who had asked for Mahathir to step down.
“Ha ha ha ha …we know what you tried to do last night. Good try,” Firdaus tweeted, responding to Khalid’s praise of Anwar for putting aside his supporters’ sentiments in calling Mahathir to fix a handover date.
Meanwhile, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, when asked by reporters to comment after the meeting, declined to do so.
Earlier report: Feb 21, Dr M: No Handover Date, It’s Up to Me