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Friday, February 28, 2020

Last chance for Mahathir to exit with dignity intact



He was impressive. It was the carefully chosen words, the delivery and the right facial expression.
Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the interim prime minister, had many eating out of his hands by the time the short announcement was over.
His suggestion, where cabinet members will be chosen on meritocracy and not along party lines, would obviously have the support of the people.
The idea sounds so plausible on paper because it appears to be people-centric and will keep away warring factions within the government.

But it simply won’t work. And I don’t want to mince my words when I say that it would consolidate powers in the hands of Mahathir.
More importantly, the will of the people would not be done because Mahathir will not need to be accountable to the Pakatan Harapan manifesto or any reform agenda, is free to appoint whomever he chooses into cabinet and that includes politicians from Umno and PAS; and he will not need to work on a consensus nor consult with Harapan.
In short, it would be a one-man show. It would be a Mahathir government. And Mahathir would only be answerable to himself.
This is a betrayal to the people who voted in Harapan, based on its election promises and reform agenda.
The flurry of events over the last few days has left many confused.

Instead of the King, His Majesty Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah (above), Mahathir made an announcement stating no PM nominee secured a distinct majority and that Parliament will choose the premier at a special sitting.
This has prompted constitutional experts to say only the King has the powers to choose the prime minister.
The palace hasn’t divulged the numbers obtained by nominated candidates despite a long interview process by the King.
And we don’t know why the King isn’t appointing as prime minister a member who is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Lower House and if PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim could possibly have the numbers.
In short, we are left grappling for answers.
But ironically, in this protracted mess, people have forgotten that Anwar was supposed to take over from Mahathir.
In 2018, Malaysians cheered on Mahathir and believed he would do the right thing for the country.
They trusted that he was no more the dictator but a leader who was committed to reforms.
But in less than two years, we are now questioning if he was playing to the gallery. If he was the man who orchestrated the collapse of the Harapan government with the help of a few individuals.
I will still say all is not lost. Mahathir can still exit the scene with honour and dignity if he can withdraw from the race and pave the way for Anwar to be the eighth prime minister, as he has lost the mandate of the people.

CHARLES SANTIAGO is Klang MP. - Mkini

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