Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today explained that he had quit the country’s premiership and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chairman as his own party had rejected him.
In a five-minute video which premiered on Facebook, Dr Mahathir said Bersatu had, on Feb 21 this year – which was the Friday before the Sheraton Move weekend– took a stance that went against his.
His own party, said Dr Mahathir, was adamant that it should quit the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition and work with Barisan Nasional, which they had defeated in the 14th General Election (GE14).
“Many people do not understand why I quit. I quit because my own party had rejected me. They made a decision that clashed with my advice. It meant that the party had lost their trust in me.
“In that situation, I cannot remain as Bersatu chairman. That was why. It was because of my own party’s action. I was of the opinion that the suggestion for Bersatu to exit the PH coalition did not have a good basis.
“I was fully supported by PH during their meeting on Friday. They had given the approval for me to freely determine when I want to quit. When that decision was made and I received full support from PH, I told Muhyiddin (Bersatu president and current Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) then what was the reason for me to leave PH.
“If there are other reasons, I said let’s wait and I shall quit PH. But he felt that we needed to leave PH on that day itself. He said if not, the Malays will be destroyed by DAP. I did not believe that DAP could easily destroy the Malays,” said Dr Mahathir.
He added that he had told Muhyiddin to give time to that thought and to think deeply as Bersatu had won GE14 with the support of PH; and they should not rush to make the decision to cooperate with BN, which was a party that had lost.
“PH was the party that won GE14. Why should we suddenly reject and cooperate with the defeated party? The party that is involved with corruption, the stealing of money and others.
“We reject our own party and work with the defeated party, which is chaired by Najib (Datuk Seri Najib Razak), and become the government. They did not care about my opinion and left PH.
“I thought deeply and if my own party rejects me, I need to quit my position. That was why I quit as PH chairman and then as Prime Minister, although many had asked me to return as chairman.
“I went back to becoming Bersatu chairman but not PH (chairman) because the party was already out of the coalition. PH had then collapsed because Bersatu left,” said Dr Mahathir.
PPBM had said it had decided in a February 23 meeting to leave PH.
On February 24, PPBM announced its pullout from PH that resulted in the PH coalition losing the parliamentary majority needed to form the government, while Dr Mahathir on the same day announced his resignation as PPBM chairman and as prime minister.
On February 26, Dr Mahathir had also explained his decision to resign as prime minister.
Malaysia was in a political crisis in late February after the PH administration ceased that had even resulted in Istana Negara seeking to help identify the MP that was likely to command the confidence of the majority of MPs, with Muhyiddin eventually sworn in as the country’s eighth prime minister on March 1.
Dr Mahathir’s video came amid rumours that both he and his son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir would be sacked from their positions as PPBM chairman and deputy president respectively.
But the PPBM supreme council meeting scheduled for today — which had omitted Dr Mahathir and Mukhriz from the invite sent out — has reportedly been called off.
Recently, Bersatu’s information chief Mohd Radzi Md Jidin claimed that Dr Mahathir was in the know and supported the decision to leave Pakatan.
He said Bersatu’s supreme council had decided to leave Pakatan and form a new political alliance with other parties.
Radzi claimed the decision was not made in haste. In fact, it was decided at various leadership levels in the party several months before and was finalised in Bersatu’s political bureau meeting on February 21.
He also said in a special supreme council meeting on February 24, Dr Mahathir’s resignation was not accepted, but after checking the party’s constitution, they found there was no allocation that allowed the supreme council to return the chairman post to the person who resigned.
Some have blamed Dr Mahathir for resigning as prime minister, which is seen as one of the triggers that set off the crisis.
Dr Mahathir remains in Bersatu, which is now split between his supporters and those in favour of remaining with Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional government.
He said he will sit with the opposition when Parliament meets on May 18 and has also filed a no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin, which the Dewan Rakyat speaker has accepted.