Azmin backs opposition call for PM Mahathir to stay on for full term

Malaysia's Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the opening ceremony of the 20th Asia Oil & Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur on June 24, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali on Monday (July 29) joined the opposition in calling for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to serve his full term as prime minister.

His statement appears to contradict an arrangement within the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim to take over the reins two years following PH's victory at the polls last year.

"I welcome the statement made by Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Hadi Awang that PAS and Umno will give their full support to Tun Mahathir to serve as the prime minister until the end of his term," Datuk Seri Azmin, who is also PKR's deputy president, said in a statement.

Mr Azmin has been implicated in a sex video scandal which led to a split within his party, with leaders pledging support for either the president or the deputy.

Dr Mahathir has said that the video was an attempt to block the political career of an individual and stated that he would not be used in this issue.

Datuk Seri Hadi had said last Friday that PAS and Umno wished to see Dr Mahathir complete his term as premier until the next election - due in 2023 - to uphold the interests of the Malays and Muslims.

Mr Hadi said that PAS and Umno would support Dr Mahathir as they felt that the PH administration was "not the face of Islam".

He added that PAS and Umno could trust Dr Mahathir and his capabilities, even though Mr Hadi claimed that PH was controlled by non-Muslims.

"Tun Dr Mahathir's leadership is needed to ensure stability, continuity and consistency of government policies to spur investment, create jobs and prosperity for all," Mr Azmin said in Monday's statement.

"I am confident that political stability will strengthen the country's fundamentals and integrity, which along with the concept of 'shared prosperity', will bring Malaysia back as an Asian Tiger."

Dr Mahathir had led the PH coalition in the May 9 general election last year, trouncing Mr Najib Razak's Barisan Nasional for the first time.

The agreement within PH was to allow Mr Anwar to become the next prime minister in two years, and he was freed from prison a few days after the election following a royal pardon, as part of the transition plan.

However, Dr Mahathir has wavered between saying he will abide by the agreement, and being non-committal towards it.

PAS has previously voiced their staunch support for Dr Mahathir.

In February this year, PAS said its 18 MPs pledged to back Dr Mahathir amid talk that a no-confidence vote was being plotted against the 94-year-old leader in Parliament.

PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan claimed that the betrayal could come from "two component parties" within PH but did not name them.

Selangor PAS election director Roslan Shahir urged PH ally Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to deny that the party was behind a plot to oust Dr Mahathir.

"Rather than wait on a matter which everyone already knows, it is better that DAP and its partners who want to topple Mahathir through a no-confidence vote deny it," he wrote in PAS party organ Harakahdaily.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.