Don’t blame me for quitting as Malaysian PM; that was democracy at work, says Mahathir

Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he resigned as PM due to a loss of support from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia. PHOTO: ST FILE

PETALING JAYA – Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday said he should not be blamed for resigning as premier in 2020.

He said back then that he resigned due to a loss of support from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, which he founded and led at that time, Malay daily Sinar Harian reported on Saturday.

“I resigned because my party rejected me and usually in a democracy, when we are rejected by the party, we resign.

“Besides, I was also aware that the Pakatan Harapan government would fall due to detractors from Bersatu and PKR (Parti Keadilan Rakyat),” he said, in reference to PH’s coalition parties.

“I don’t understand why people blame me for resigning as PM. They should blame those who didn’t support my stance instead.”

Tun Dr Mahathir added that back then, he had asked Bersatu to take a wait-and-see approach instead of leaving PH.

“Instead, they pounded on the table and told me to leave PH now, and it seemed they were rejecting me,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said this when he was asked to respond to the Malaysian King’s address during the opening of the parliamentary session on Feb 13.

In his address, Sultan Abdullah Ahmad Shah said the prolonged political chaos that plagued the nation over the last four years could have been prevented if MPs and politicians had set aside their differences to serve the people.

Three premiers have come and gone under Sultan Abdullah’s rule so far, owing to a series of political ousters and resignations, starting with Dr Mahathir, who resigned in Feb 2020, followed by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was appointed by the King the following month.

After Mr Muhyiddin resigned in August 2021, the King was again forced to choose and appoint a new premier, Umno vice-president Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

The constitutional monarch, who plays a largely ceremonial role, can appoint whoever he believes will command a majority in Parliament.

The general election last November resulted in an unprecedented hung Parliament, with neither then opposition leader Anwar nor Mr Muhyiddin winning the simple majority needed to form a government. Umno suffered its worst loss in history.

After the King’s proposal for Datuk Seri Anwar and Mr Muhyiddin to work together was turned down by the latter, he was yet again forced to pick the next prime minister, Mr Anwar.

The Prime Minister’s PH coalition formed a unity government with former rival Umno and its Barisan Nasional coalition, while Mr Muhyiddin’s Perikatan Nasional remains in the opposition. THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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