Malaysia's former PM Mahathir denies his resignation sparked crisis, suggests political saga is not over

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad said that he resigned because he had lost the support of his allies.
Former premier Mahathir Mohamad said that he resigned because he had lost the support of his allies.PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR - Former premier Mahathir Mohamad denied on Tuesday (March 3) that his resignation sparked Malaysia's political crisis, while indicating that the saga is not yet over.

After two days of apparent calm following Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's swearing-in as prime minister on Sunday, the 94-year-old put up a short post on Facebook and his blog pushing back against allegations that his resignation set off last week's unprecedented turmoil.

Implying that his supporters had betrayed him in front of the King, he said that he resigned last Monday (Feb 24) because he had lost the support of his allies.

"The Prime Minister alleged that the political crisis began when I, Mahathir Mohamad, resigned as prime minister," he wrote referring to a televised speech by Mr Muhyiddin on Monday.

"Why would I resign for no reason? I, who was allegedly backed by the government parties and opposition, including (former PM) Najib Tun Razak and a few others who are currently undergoing trials for corruption charges? It doesn't make sense."

He added: "What is true is that I resigned because in the statements made before the King, I no longer had the support from my supporters. I did not have the majority and was no longer qualified to be prime minister."

He also lamented the fact that his idea to have a non-partisan unity government was rejected: "I suggested a government that would include non-politicians who are knowledgeable. Party members would also join but as a regular person and not beholden to their party's agenda."

He ended his post with question marks, suggesting that the saga is still playing out.

"So I resigned. And the crisis prolonged. I do not know when it will end??" he wrote.

 
 
 
 

In his first speech as prime minister, Mr Muhyiddin said Tun Dr Mahathir had triggered the crisis by resigning.

Mr Muhyiddin said that his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), which was founded by Dr Mahathir, had initially given their full support to the 94-year-old statesman, but he had failed to obtain majority support as declared by the National Palace on Feb 28.

The King had then invited party leaders to nominate another candidate for prime minister, after which MPs from Bersatu and other parties proposed his name.

"What choice did I have? To continue supporting Mahathir, who did not have majority support, or to accept the candidacy as prime minister?" he said during his speech, where he rejected accusations that he was a traitor.

"If I kept supporting Mahathir, this political crisis would be prolonged. Parliament might have to be dissolved and a snap general election held."