Mahathir's aide reveals what happened behind the scenes during Malaysia's week-long political upheaval

Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur, on March 1, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's former assistant press secretary has given his take on what actually happened behind the scenes during the week-long political upheaval that led to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin becoming Malaysia's eighth Prime Minister.

Mr Adam Mukhriz Mohd Muhayeddin said the downfall of PH began on the fateful Sunday of Feb 23.

In a Facebook post on Monday (March 2), he said this was when former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy president Azmin Ali's "cartel team" met at the Sheraton Hotel, the location of the so-called "Sheraton Move", while Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) was having its supreme council meeting.

"In that (Bersatu supreme council) meeting, Dr Mahathir did not agree to take Umno (en bloc) as a party," he said.

Mr Adam Mukhriz said Dr Mahathir had declined to work with Umno based on his principles, but was accepting in having individual MPs from the party.

"Dr Mahathir held his tears back, telling them: 'Don't force me to violate my principles,'" he said, adding that only a few Bersatu supreme council members had stood with Dr Mahathir.

He said they were Mr Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, Dr Maszlee Malik, Mr Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Mr Abu Bakar Yahya, Datuk A. Kadir Jasin and Mr Ulya Husamudin.

Mr Adam Mukhriz said the decision was put on hold to allow time for Dr Mahathir to decide, adding that even Datuk Seri Azmin was hoping that Dr Mahathir would change his mind.

"That night, the Sheraton Move took place. (Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor) came as though he were a minister and the crowds parted, all those gathered that night were fantasising of picking this ministry or that," said Mr Adam Mukhriz.

He said PH leaders then started coming to meet Dr Mahathir the following day.

However, he said, during that time, Dr Mahathir was in fact unwell, as he was under a lot of stress.

"Before this, to them (Pakatan leaders) they all saw Dr Mahathir as the most evil person. To them, they felt that it was Dr Mahathir who had planned it all. The backdoor government or the Sheraton Move.

"After each of them came to see him, he explained to them and they realised that Dr Mahathir was sincere and principled as he was able to become the prime minister to a coalition from all parties. But, by that time, it was already too late. Dr Mahathir had already resigned," he said.

Mr Adam Mukhriz explained that Dr Mahathir actually did not want to stay as prime minister because he could not lead PH, as Bersatu had left the coalition.

"Actually the Pakatan government had already fallen. He did not want to become the prime minister for an Umno government. He also resigned as the Bersatu chairman, as he did not agree with the stance that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin made," he said.

After the Yang di-Pertuan Agong made Dr Mahathir the interim prime minister, Mr Adam Mukhriz said Dr Mahathir did not attend PH's meeting not because he did not want to, but because he was no longer Bersatu chairman.

He said it was then that PH had nominated PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as prime minister.

When the King met one-on-one with all the politicians, Mr Adam Mukhriz said the King then notified Dr Mahathir that there was no clear majority.

Mr Adam Mukhriz said Dr Mahathir then suggested to take it to the Parliament but the House Speaker rejected it.

Following the rejection, he said PH leaders once again came back to Dr Mahathir.

"Dr Mahathir agreed to become the prime minister again but with certain conditions. They agreed. Before that, Bersatu made a stand that they would nominate Muhyiddin as the prime minister and agreed to be with Umno and PAS which was why Dr Mahathir had declined," he said.

Mr Adam Mukhriz also shared that the saddest moment for Dr Mahathir was when he lost the support of a few MPs whom he thought were his trusted friends.

"That is why Dr Mahathir said he was betrayed. Yes. It was the greatest betrayal. (That's why) Dr Mahathir said Muhyiddin is a traitor," he said.

Following the collapse of the PH government after MPs from Bersatu and PKR left the coalition, Mr Muhyiddin was sworn in as Malaysia's eighth prime minister on Sunday.

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