Two Barisan Nasional (BN) Members of Parliament today revealed that they, along with Pas and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) wanted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to stay on as prime minister during the February political crisis.
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim (Umno – Arau) said Dr Mahathir had insisted on resigning, leaving BN, Pas and GPS MPs with no choice but to nominate another name.
“All of this happened because of you, Tun. It’s because of Langkawi stepping down (in February) that now we need to replace the speaker.
“Tun, we, MPs from BN, Pas and GPS were asked to support you as prime minister, but you quit,” he said, to which Baling MP Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Rahim shouted, “You ran away!”
“When you quit, we were forced to nominate a new name for prime minister. You shouldn’t have resigned. You should’ve nominated another name like Port Dickson (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim), for example.
“But you quit instead. When you resigned, what other options did we have? We were forced to suggest Pagoh (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) to be the prime minister,” he said.
Shahidan said this in the Dewan Rakyat when debating on the motion to replace current Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff with former Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun.
Dr Mahathir had earlier said he rejected the motion, saying the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government could not provide a valid answer on why Mohamad Ariff needed to be replaced.
Shahidan, however, argued that changes in the government’s top post will naturally lead to changes in other top positions in the country.
“When there is a change (of the prime minister’s position), there will be other changes too including what we’re about to do soon,” Shahidan said.
Datuk Seri Bung Moktar (Umno – Kinabatangan) echoed Shahidan’s remark, saying that BN, Pas and GPS MPs had to accept Dr Mahathir’s resignation although that was not their intention.
“What Arau said is true. Everything happened because of Langkawi. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong already advised Langkawi not to resign but he did anyway and when he resigned, there must be a replacement.
“We didn’t force Tun to resign. We wanted Tun still but since you resigned, we had to accept it and now that there’s a new government, the prime minister wants a new team.
“We’re not angry with the (current) speaker but (the motion to replace him) is simply because the prime minister wants a speaker who is in line with his vision for the government and the country,” he said.
On Feb 21, the country was still under the helm of Dr Mahathir as the prime minister and after a long and heated Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council meeting, Dr Mahathir told reporters that he would stay on, leading the country until he decided to call it quits on his second stint.
A week later, the country saw a new prime minister and government in place without Malaysians casting a single vote after Dr Mahathir resigned, thus causing the collapse of the PH government.
Muhyiddin (Bersatu – Pagoh) was then sworn in as the country’s eighth prime minister on March 1 with the support of MPs from BN, GPS and Pas.