Power Play to Produce Mahathir’s Preferred Parliament?
It is believed that Mahathir’s resignation was motivated by his desire to consolidate power, outmanoeuvre Anwar and his refusal to work with those of the past regime.
“I am willing to accept UMNO members if they leave UMNO and join other parties. But UMNO would be joining this coalition government as UMNO. I would not accept this,” said Dr Mahathir in his first televised address after the resignation.
Appointed by the king as the interim PM until a new PM is chosen, some suspect the 94-year-old is successfully holding all the cards to form the next government now.
“Tun Mahathir’s resignation as PM and Bersatu leaving PH means that he is no longer accountable to Pakatan Harapan anymore. There is no more succession pact, nobody can force him into any succession agreement. He can start afresh all over again and chart Malaysia’s destiny,” said Assoc Prof Ahmad Martadha from Universiti Utara Malaysia.
“If permitted, I will try to establish an administration that does not favour any party. Only the country’s interests will be prioritised,” Mahathir said. In other words, Mahathir has sent a message that he gets to choose the MPs.
The Ball is in the King’s Court?
No one except for the King, known as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, knows exactly how each of the 222 MPs has voted in their one-on-one interviews with His Majesty over the course of two days.
Under the Constitution, the king could either appoint a favoured Prime Minister or trigger a snap election. A PH source states that the Palace was already presented with the necessary declarations of support for Dr Mahathir the day before the resignation, and the proposal to form a new coalition that leaves Anwar out in the cold.
In a twist of events, the king has selected Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, president of Bersatu, as the next PM on 29 February, two days after Mahathir had announced a reconvention of Parliament to vote for the next PM because the king “cannot find anybody with a distinct majority”.
Time to Make New Friends?
This dysfunctional relationship between Mahathir and Anwar was summarised by Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
“We were great friends, then we were great enemies, and now we are together building our great country again. That is important. No feeling of revenge at all. We want to look forward to the future and build together,” she said.