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The time to step down hasn't come: Mahathir
Published on: Thursday, February 27, 2020
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KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) said Wednesday that if given the chance, he will try to establish a non-partisan national administration, with priority accorded to national interests.

“I feel, rightly or wrongly, that politics and political parties have to be set aside for the time being. Only national interests will be accorded priority,” the interim Prime Minister said in a special address to the nation carried live over television.

Politics, politicians and political parties place too much emphasis on politics to the extent of forgetting the economic and health problems that threaten the nation, Dr Mahathir said, breaking his silence since last Friday when he spoke at a press conference after having chaired the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Presidential Council meeting.

He resigned as the Prime Minister at 1pm last Monday and at about 7.30pm was appointed as the interim Prime Minister.

On his new approach to having a non-partisan national administration, Dr Mahathir said: 

“If given the chance, this is what I will try to do. I pray and seek the blessings and guidance of Allah (God) in this endeavour.”

Of late, many people feel that there is too much politicking in the country, even when it is not election time, compared to many other countries.

This gives the impression that Malaysians are preoccupied with politics and politicising everything at a time when the country is facing various challenges, including in the economic and health aspects.

Dr Mahathir began his address by apologising to all Malaysians for the somewhat chaotic state of the country’s political situation which he said can cause them anxiety.

His resignations as the Prime Minister and Bersatu Chairman on Monday caught everyone by surprise as he had repeatedly said he wanted to stay on as the PM until after Malaysia hosts the Apec meeting in November.

This followed the hive of activity as political parties from both sides of the divide huddled in separate meetings as speculation mounted of the possible formation of a new coalition government with different partners.

“I had promised to step down as the PM to let the Dewan Rakyat determine my successor. If it is true that I was still favoured, I will have returned. If not, I will have accepted whoever is chosen (to be the PM),” he said.

Giving his perspective on the political developments lately, Dr Mahathir said the opportunity existed to change the leadership but he felt that because he had the support of both sides, the time for him to step down had not come.

“I had asked to be given time. But my party, Bersatu (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia), decided to leave Pakatan Harapan. Some members of other component parties would have left also, causing the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government,” said Dr Mahathir who, on Monday, also resigned as the Chairman of Bersatu, one of the four PH component parties.

“The consequence of Bersatu supporting PAS and Umno would mean that defeated parties will have formed the government. That government will have been dominated by Umno as the biggest party.

“I am prepared to accept Umno members who have left the party to join another. But Umno would have joined this coalition government as a party. I cannot accept that. So, I had to resign,” he said.

In helming PH, Dr Mahathir took over the leadership of the nation for the second time when he became the seventh Prime Minister after PH defeated what he had described as a kleptocratic Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) government in the 14th general election in May 2018.

He made eradication of corruption as the main agenda of the PH administration as he went on to revive the economy and the country’s administration, aiming to restore Malaysia’s tarnished image in the eyes of the world.

In Wednesday’s address, the 94-year-old leader outlined the reasons why he resigned on Monday.

“I resigned because I do not see power and position as the be-all and end-all as my objective. For me, power and position are a means to an end or a tool to achieve the objective. And, the objective of us all is the wellbeing of the nation.

“That is why I chose to resign as I could see that for politicians, the most important thing is which party rules, regardless of whether it is a defeated party or not,” he said.

On his efforts to resolve the current political situation, Dr Mahathir said he is aware that many will resist or reject outright what he is doing now but there may be others who will support him.

“I am not seeking popularity. I only want to do something that I think is good for the country,” said the interim Prime Minister. 

Dr Mahathir said as an ordinary human being, he is not immune to making mistakes. “I seek forgiveness if I was wrong to have resigned,” he said.


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