Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has to leave office to give Malaysia Baharu (new Malaysia) a chance for reforms, more so because he is only an interim PM says a Malaysiakini columnist.
The writer says he understood ‘at all times’ that Dr Mahathir would be an interim PM pending the release of Anwar from prison via a pardon. There are a plethora of reports to say that the handover will not be over two years.
He says the two years is not a random figure imagined by others. Dr Mahathir has recently been saying he might not stay over three years, sparking protest among Pakatan Harapan grassroots on one side, and supporters on the other side of the Pakatan fence.
In the article, the writer says long and acrimonious discussion preceded this decision to have Dr Mahathir as the Prime Minister candidate “and it looked like the alliance with Mahathir would not take place several times.”
To get Dr Mahathir’s Bersatu on board with Pakatan Harapan, the party got an excess of 52 – a lot for a newly created party – seats against 51 for the party that represented ‘reformasi’ the Parti Keadilan Rakyat of Anwar Ibrahim.
But it won only 13 seats, a meagre performance leaving the Democratic Action Party and PKR with 90 percent and 80 percent success rate and giving these two parties nearly four-fifths of the 114 parliamentary seats of the official coalition (excluding Warisan) at the end of GE14, says the writer.
In the aftermath of last year’s election victory, Anwar’s wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the current deputy PM had the chance to become the first woman PM of Malaysia. The King had offered her this chance, but she kept to the coalition promise for Dr Mahathir to become PM again.
“Acceptance of Mahathir as interim PM was on two premises – that he will be an interim PM, but no definite timelines and agreements as to cabinet composition, etc, were written down. And second, that he was old and therefore easy to manipulate and would be more of a caretaker PM. Mahathir has been anything but that.
“Once installed as PM, the leopard reverted to its spots, ruthlessly running roughshod over PKR, making divisive moves within PKR and getting the DAP on his side by appointing the party’s ambitious supremo Lim Guan Eng as finance minister with no consultation with PKR.
“His supporters cried prime ministerial prerogative and so did the DAP – for a while. The coalition almost had an early death.
Then he drove an unexpected wedge into PKR by proposing Azmin Ali as economic affairs minister, effectively splitting the Finance Ministry into two, cutting Lim’s power at the same time,” writes the columnist.
He says Dr Mahathir not only gave disproportionate cabinet positions to Bersatu and Amanah after GE14, but brought in the controversial former finance minister Daim Zainuddin an ex-Finance Minister in Dr M’s cabinet in the past, who is known to be distrusted by Anwar and who has an antagonistic relationship with him, as a key economic adviser.
Daim headed the Council of Eminent Persons, an extra-cabinet grouping to make recommendations to the PM. That report is now classified secret under the Offical Secrets Act, among legislation PKR promised to rescind/review in its manifesto. Not just that, but many other promised legal reforms are still gathering dust, more than heat, on the back burner.
“For reform to take place and a new Malaysia to emerge, Mahathir, as interim prime minister, has to go first and Anwar needs to take over. No one knows for sure what kind of PM Anwar will make, but that was the promise. It is a promise that Mahathir will break if he can and he seems to be setting the stage for that,” says the writer.