TUN DR MAHATHIR MOHAMED’S COMMENTS POSTED ON HIS BLOG “CHE DET” ON 3 FEBRUARY 2021, IN RESPONSE TO REMARKS BY FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL TOMMY THOMAS IN HIS BOOK
1. I was shocked to read excerpts from Tommy Thomas’ book My Story: Justice in the Wildness. Tommy was one of those lawyers who hated me. But before I became once again Prime Minister Tommy came with Zainur Zakaria and Ambiga, both who at one time were against me, and Zainur Zakaria recommended Tommy for the post of Attorney General (AG).
2. At that time I was disillusioned with a number of Malay A.G. who were prepared to obey the Prime Minister (Najib) even when instructed to do something obviously wrong. I thought it would be a good thing if the A.G. is not a Malay.
3. When I became the 7th Prime Minister, I decided to appoint Tommy Thomas. I knew Malays would not like it. But the Malay AGs had not been true to their profession. I was prepared to face criticisms from the Malays. But I could not stop my Malay critics from condemning me over Tommy Thomas’ appointment as A.G.
4. I was generally satisfied with Tommy’s work. He explained to me that there was no case against the so-called supporters of LTTE. I accepted his explanation and wrote to Muhyiddin, the Minister of Home Affairs. He dropped the case. The anger of the Malays against me was terrible.
5. Tommy knew nothing about my resignation. According to Tommy I told him that the Agong had wanted to appoint Wan Azizah as Interim Prime Minister. This is nonsense. After reluctantly accepting my resignation, the Agong suggested I become Interim Prime Minister. Wan Azizah could not be Acting Prime Minister or Interim Prime Minister because the PH Government had already collapsed.
6. My reason for resigning was because my own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, rejected my advise not to leave Pakatan Harapan because at the meeting of the Presidential Council of PH all the members agreed to let me decide when I should step down. Clearly they were not in favour of my stepping down to give way to Anwar. Anwar and Wan Azizah attended that meeting.
7. At the meeting of the Supreme Council of Bersatu, on Sunday my appeal to give time before deciding to leave PH was rejected. I knew that when Bersatu together with Azmin’s faction of PKR left PH, the PH Government would fall as it lost the majority.
8. Although I pleaded to be given a week for me to decide, that night Bersatu, Azmin’s faction of PKR, UMNO and PAS had a dinner in Sheraton Petaling Jaya. I refused to attend, because I was not informed beforehand. Obviously Bersatu, led by Muhyiddin had agreed to form a coalition with UMNO, PAS together with Azmin’s faction. PH was no longer the Government. They could not wait one week for me to decide.
9. I thought about the rejection of my advice by the Supreme Council of Bersatu in the light of Bersatu’s participation at Sheraton. I concluded that I had lost the confidence of Bersatu and therefore I must resign as its Chairman. If I resign as Chairman I no longer represent the party in the PH. So I decided to resign as Prime Minister as well.
10. After having informed the PH coalition leaders, I expected to have an audience with the King that afternoon. I believe he had already received my resignation letter when I met him that afternoon. He at first refused to accept my resignation. I was adamant and he then accepted it. But immediately he asked me to be interim Prime Minister.
12. At that time the Pakatan Harapan Government had already fallen, as Muhyiddin had announced Bersatu had left PH at noon. Wan Azizah as DPM could not take my place as PH was no longer the Government. Nor could any member of PH take over from me.
13. The King decided that the 222 members of Parliament should nominate a new Prime Minister who had the support of the majority of the members. He wanted them to make their choice by signing a statutory declaration in front of him.
14. It took two days with him witnessing the members naming their candidates and signing the declaration.
15. I did not put myself up as a candidate but I did expect to win. As I related above the Presidential Council of PH decided to let me determine when I should leave. On the other hand YB Hamzah Zainuddin, who plotted the fall of Pakatan Harapan, had obtained statutory declaration from all of UMNO and PAS MPs that they supported me as Prime Minister.
16. I thought that my position was strengthened because I had the support of Government MPs as well as opposition MPs. But Hamzah’s plan was to get me to head a new coalition consisting of UMNO, PAS and Bersatu. I would still be Prime Minister and that should persuade me to leave PH.
17. But the Pakatan Harapan MPs did not name me as their candidate when they made their statutory declaration in front of the Agong. Anwar had persuaded them that he had enough support from Sabah and Sarawak MPs and with PH MPs to have a majority to become Prime Minister. So they named Anwar as the PH candidate.
18. But actually he had the support of only DAP, Amanah and his faction of his PKR. They totalled 92. I managed to get only 62. So both of us lost.
19. When Muhyiddin was named Prime Minister he did not have majority support. But upon his appointment he was able to offer places in his cabinet to the members who supported me. They crossed over and Muhyiddin achieved a majority of two.
20. During the time when Tommy Thomas was A.G. I got on quite well with him. He would see me for all major issues. I trusted him and defended him when Malays condemned him. His term was ending. I recommended a Tan Sri-ship for him.
22. But when I resigned as Prime Minister he came to see me to inform me that since I appointed him and since I was no longer PM he should also resign.
23. His account about my resignation is quite fantastic. I had always been labelled a dictator by the opposition when I was Prime Minister. I never expected the Opposition to adore me. That would not justify their opposition against me. But I resigned in 2003 because I felt I had been PM too long. Dictators don’t resign. But of course those who were against me were not going to stop claiming I was a dictator.
24. I don’t believe in overstaying my welcome. In 2020 I resigned as Bersatu Chairman not because I wished to, but my party had lost their confidence in me. Besides I believed the PH had lost its majority and could no longer be the Government. I also resigned as Prime Minister. Actually this was not necessary as the collapse of the PH Government meant I was no longer PM.
25. As far as the Cabinet is concerned, when PH lost the majority, the Cabinet could not be sustained. Article 43 of the Constitution, para (4) says “If the Prime Minister ceases to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the House of Representatives, then, unless at his request the Yang di- Pertuan Agong dissolves Parliament, the Prime Minister shall tender the resignation of the Cabinet.”
26. The situation was different from 1969, when Perikatan had a majority. It was not overthrown as PH was. The Tunku was expected to be the PM. But emergency was declared and NOC (National Operations Council) was formed headed by Tun Razak. Later when the Tunku resigned, Tun Razak was appointed PM. He had the majority as Perikatan had won the election.
27. Similarly Barisan Nasional (BN) had the majority when Hussein decided not to contest and I became President of UMNO and Prime Minister.
28. When I resigned in 2020 Pakatan Harapan had lost its majority and the Agong could not simply appoint Wan Azizah, the Deputy Prime Minister as Prime Minister. Neither did the Agong ask Wan Azizah to be Interim Prime Minister.
29. There is no provision for Interim Prime Minister. I accepted the designation because choosing a Prime Minister by the 222 Members of Parliament would take time. The country needed a temporary head of Government. Once the members had chosen the new Prime Minister, my appointment would cease. But the members did not give anyone a clear majority. Anwar had 92 while I had 62.
30. Yes. My resignation was personal. I never submitted the resignation of the Cabinet. But when the PH Government fell, there was no way the Cabinet could remain. It had to go down with the Government.
31. I cannot understand how a lawyer cannot understand this was not a change of Prime Minister. The PH Government had lost. The Agong could not appoint Wan Azizah, the Deputy Prime Minister as acting Prime Minister. Like me, she did not have a majority after PH was overthrown by Bersatu leaving together with Azmin’s faction of PKR or Justice Party. Neither did the Cabinet.
32. As interim Prime Minister my job was to help set up a Government. The politicians were all talking about their parties’ interests, not about the nation.
33. I thought we should all forget about our parties and think about the nation. So I told all party heads that we should have a Unity Government and parties should forget their individual agenda. We should also bring in non-politicians into the Government.
34. I remembered well that Tun Razak, as head of NOC, tried to bring in all the opposition parties into the Government. He succeeded with Gerakan, PAS and SUPP. But DAP refused. Still he felt justified in naming the new coalition, the National Front or Barisan Nasional.
35. I thought that something similar was needed. But I failed because Kit Siang said I was trying to become a dictator. He supported Anwar as the PH candidate. Had the 92 votes gone to me I would have 154 votes. You can imagine what direction the nation would take when all parties put the nation first.