KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said that despite the ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) recent losses in by-elections, it does not indicate the pact would lose the next general election.
“I do not think that Pakatan Harapan would be a one-term government,” Tun Dr Mahathir told reporters in the resort island of Langkawi on Monday (Jan 20).
“We lost in several by-elections. It does not mean we would lose the general election,” he said.
He was responding to a report by Reuters news agency citing his remarks as meaning that PH would no longer hold power by the next election.
Reuters had reported that Dr Mahathir cautioned the coalition would lose power if the pact’s leaders fail to change their ways.
PH has lost five out of 10 by-elections held since May 2018 when it wrested power away from Barisan National (BN), marking the country’s first change of government in its six-decade history.
Most recently, PH ally Parti Warisan Sabah lost the Kimanis by-election last weekend by a wider majority than the 2018 record. Its loss in Sabah was attributed to poor consistent communications to voters explaining a controversial migrant pass it is planning to push through that locals feared would pave the way for illegals to gain citizenship.
Dr Mahathir said the current government has a tougher job compared to its previous administrators since it has to do “cleanup” work.
“We have to clean up the administration, find money and pay debts… But Pakatan Harapan is now well known as not good at communicating,” lamented the Premier.
In a sign of frustration at increasing criticisms over the PH government’s performance, Dr Mahathir hinted that the electorate is hard to please with voters who are easily swayed.
“We have reached a stage now when people would kiss the hand of a thief and call him ‘Bossku’,” said Dr Mahathir, referencing former premier Najib Razak, who has rebranded himself since the 2018 elections and gained supporters with the “Bossku” tagline.
Najib is on trial for money laundering and corruption charges involving billions of dollars from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“It looks like if bossku steals money people are okay with that. I do not understand how people can be influenced by someone who is facing trial for cheating, stealing money,” Dr Mahathir added.
“If these people want him to come back (into government) then go ahead, vote for him at the 15th general election but do not expect Pakatan Harapan to return and correct wrongs again,” he said.