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Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dr M: Excluding me from opposition coalition means no Malay support

 


Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that Pakatan Harapan may not be able to secure Malay support in the next general election if it refuses to cooperate with him.

Mahathir said this is based on the fact that his involvement in Harapan during the 2018 general election helped bolster the opposition coalition's Malay support.

"I had helped the opposition to win (in GE14) because I brought in Malay support. You know DAP, which could never get more than 18 seats, get 42 seats because of the Malay support I brought in," he said in an interview with China Press.

"So, if you exclude me, you are going to exclude Malay support, you are going to lose," he added.

For the record, Harapan won 89 seats in the 2013 general election with DAP securing 38 parliamentary seats. The coalition, with the help of Bersatu which Mahathir founded, won a total 113 parliamentary seats in the 2018 general election.

While Harapan's Malay support did increase, helping to put the Harapan parties across the finishing line in marginal seats with a substantial Malay population, its inroads in the Malay rural heartland was still limited with Bersatu only winning 13 seats.

While Amanah and DAP still want to continue cooperating with Mahathir, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is less keen.

Mahathir said he wants to cooperate with Anwar but the latter had rejected all his proposals.

"What have I done to him? I released him (from prison) and I wasn't due to step down. And yet I stepped down earlier.

"I didn't stop him, I wanted to work with him, I told him that, 'Okay, if you don't like me, let me have six months because if you don't have the Malay support, the opposition cannot win’," said Mahathir.

Mahathir was made prime minister after Harapan and its Sabah-based ally Warisan won in the 2018 general election.

However, the government collapsed after 22 months following Bersatu's withdrawal from the coalition and a series of defections.

Mahathir, who was opposed to Bersatu's move, was eventually expelled from the party. He is now forming a new party called Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).

He was supposed to eventually hand over power to Anwar but the collapse of the Harapan government made the agreement moot.

Revelations that Mahathir had planned to fulfil his promise by resigning as prime minister but did not intend to rally the backing of Bersatu MPs for Anwar, thus possibly allowing him to return as prime minister when Anwar could no muster enough support, also soured the relations between the two men.

Anwar must make sure he has the support to become the next prime minister, said Mahathir.

"But look at the record, how many times had he claimed to secure the support? But he doesn't have the support," he said.

He also revealed that many of Anwar's staunch supporters asked him not to let Anwar take over the premiership.

"As such, I made up my mind, in case (we) don't want Anwar to succeed, then let the Dewan Rakyat make the call," he said.

Among the defectors that helped bring down the Harapan government included Anwar's own party deputy Azmin Ali, who is also the Gombak MP.

Mahathir noted that even when Anwar claimed to have secured majority support in September - which did not materialise - the Port Dickson MP had also made clear that he will exclude him.

"When Anwar said he had the support, he has made it clear that he would exclude me. If he has the support, then show it, but he does not have it.

"They (government MPs) pledged to support Anwar probably because of the promises made by him. But those who are part of the ruling coalition know well that by ousting Muhyiddin Yassin, they will have to step down too and their future is pretty uncertain," he said.

During the Budget 2021 vote, Anwar was only able to garner a maximum of 108 MPs, three shy of defeating the fiscal document.

At present, there are 220 MPs in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat and two vacancies.

Amanah and DAP have been working to break the stalemate between Anwar and Mahathir but with little success.

Amanah touted a grand coalition to unite all opposition forces, while Selangor PKR Youth said it is open to discussing the possibility but insisted that the arrangement cannot include Mahathir.

Anwar had expressed willingness to work with "anyone" - including Mahathir - as long as the coalition’s principles are honoured and the collaborators must not bring forth "personal agendas".

However, Mahathir noted that what Anwar expected was for blanket support from him which he cannot do. - Mkini

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