Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he does not believe that Anwar Ibrahim has the numbers needed to topple the Perikatan Nasional government, just over a week after his one-time deputy claimed to have a “strong, convincing” majority in Parliament.
Mahathir, who famously became prime minister himself for a second time at the age of 92, said this was not the first time the PKR president had made such a claim.
“That is what he says,” he said in an exclusive interview with MalaysiaNow.
“But he did not give names. He said he would only do so after meeting with the Agong.
“As long as he doesn’t give us the names, I will not believe him.”
Anwar said at a press conference last Wednesday that he had the support of the majority of MPs and that Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government had collapsed.
However, he declined to give specific numbers or names.
Mahathir maintained that his new party, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, which he formed in August together with several former MPs who were sacked from Bersatu, would not join Anwar in his bid to topple the government this time.
“He says he has enough support to form the government, but I am not involved,” he said.
Mahathir led the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition to victory in the 2018 general election, ousting the Barisan Nasional administration led by Najib Razak on the back of allegations of corruption linked to the 1MDB scandal.
PH, comprising PKR, Bersatu, DAP and Amanah, helmed Putrajaya for 22 months. During that time, Mahathir was repeatedly reminded by PKR and a handful of DAP leaders of the coalition’s election pledge that he would step down and make way for Anwar as the next prime minister.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Mahathir said if PH wanted a return of the people’s mandate in the May 9 polls, he should be the candidate for prime minister.
“I was the prime minister at the time,” he added. “But they chose to put forward Anwar.
“I proposed that I remain as prime minister for six months only, to complete some unfinished work. But even that was rejected.”
Mahathir resigned as prime minister in February, after PH lost its majority in Parliament due to the exit of Bersatu and a group of MPs led by former PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali.
Muhyiddin was appointed to succeed him after receiving the support of MPs from Bersatu, Umno, PAS, GPS and other parties from Sabah.