Why Dr Mahathir backed Anwar’s bid to be PM

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Dr Mahathir Mohamad didn’t mind who the opposition candidate for prime minister was following the collapse of the Muhyiddin administration provided he was allowed to take charge of the national recovery council, said an opposition leader.

Pejuang information chief Ulya Aqamah Husamudin said youth leaders from the opposition had meetings with the Langkawi lawmaker as part of the initiative to provide a single united candidate for the prime minister’s position.

“Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Muda founder) and Pejuang youth chief Abu Hafiz Salleh Hudin played a big role in getting Dr Mahathir in.

Chan Tak Kong/The Star

“We had a meeting with Dr Mahathir and he didn’t mind who became the prime minister – whether it was Anwar Ibrahim (PKR president) or Shafie Apdal (Warisan president) – as long as he (Dr Mahathir) can handle the national recovery council,” Ulya told the Malaysian Insight.

The elder statesman had repeatedly pushed for it since July as a way to managing the Covid-19 pandemic better, he added.

Ulya said Pejuang’s main aim to get on board with Pakatan Harapan was to push for the council.

“Dr Mahathir felt that it doesn’t matter who becomes the PM…  the main aim was to better manage the epidemic.

“We were not involved in finding the numbers (support from MPs). Whoever the PM candidate was, he had to find the numbers. We (Pejuang) were going to provide the SDs (statutory declarations).”

Dr Mahathir, who is Pejuang chairman, said they had signed the SDs in the hope that Anwar would get enough support.

The Langkawi MP had in past comments expressed reservations about the opposition leader taking over as prime minister.

The Malaysian Insight learnt that parties from the previous Perikatan Nasional ruling pact, including Umno, had submitted 114 SDs in support of Bera MP Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Sources said Pakatan Harapan and its allies submitted 105 SDs in favour of Anwar.

On August 21, Ismail Sabri was sworn in as the ninth prime minister, taking his oath of office before Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at Istana Negara.

On the quest to provide a united candidate, Ulya said the youth leaders were instrumental in this matter.

“We held several meetings to ensure a decision was reached to support Anwar.

“If we didn’t support him (Anwar), then whatever decision we make won’t be helping anyone but Umno, which had lost the last election and was tainted by corruption.”

Ulya said several meetings were held with the top leadership and personal meetings were also arranged with Dr Mahathir.

“We had to liaise with the leaders. If we just let things be, then there won’t be a united front. To defeat our opponents, we needed to stand as one.

“If Pejuang abstained, then the opposition would not have the numbers, even if it is just four (MPs) supporting him. The rest was up to Anwar to get the numbers.”

The main reason they had to get the leadership together, he added, was that they did not want another failed government.

“This was the impetus to persuade all the leaders to support Anwar.”

A collective decision to support Anwar

Syed Saddiq said it was a collective decision by all the party leaders to pledge their support for Anwar to become the next prime minister.

Muda founder Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman says it was a collective decision by all the party leaders to pledge their support for Anwar. – The Malaysian Insight pic, September 5, 2021.

He said that youth leaders from all parties also played a part in bridging the gap among opposition leaders.

“There were many young leaders from all parties. Myself, Ulya and others met up with all senior leaders, trying to bridge the gap.

“We wanted to bring everyone together, put aside our differences and prioritise our country. In the end, it was a collective effort by all (to support Anwar).”

“The young leaders coordinated meetings with MPs from Pejuang, Warisan, Muda, PSB (Parti Sarawak Bersatu) to meet up and iron out our differences and come out as a bloc.”

He added that their main purpose was to ensure that people’s mandate will ultimately triumph. – TMI