While Muhyiddin Yassin was sworn in as Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim met KEADILAN leaders.
He revealed that prior to the crisis there was an offer for him to become Prime Minister with the condition that he abandon our political allies in Pakatan Harapan and accepting leaders from UMNO en bloc, including those facing corruption charges in court.
He naturally refused to betray the mandate of the people simply for the sake of obtaining the premiership.
The crisis was caused by a group of individuals who were power-hungry and betrayed the mandate given to us by the people during the 14th General Elections. History will condemn them as having damaged our democracy and as willing to do anything—including manipulating the truth—for the sake of power.
The crisis undoubtedly began with the PH Presidential Council meeting on 21 February 2020. At the meeting, the issue of the power transition between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar was closely discussed.
When the meeting took place, Azmin Ali allegedly hoped that PH would split. However, the issue was brought under control when Anwar acted to cool things down.
As will be remembered, Azmin was absent from the subsequent press conference. Anwar, reiterated his willingness to give Dr Mahathir the space to run the country. Tun Dr Mahathir also calmly noted that the transition would take place after the APEC Summit, albeit with no specific date or time.
On 23 February 2020, BERSATU held a meeting to decide on the direction of their party. At the meeting, Muhyiddin Yassin was said to have proposed cooperation with UMNO en bloc. As other media reports have stated, Muhyiddin was also said to have expressed willingness to work with controversial or contentious leaders like Najib Razak, Zahid Hamidi etc.
Dr Mahathir did not accept this, feeling that UMNO which was rejected by voters should not be accepted as a bloc, what more with the presence of individuals who had faced corruption allegations while in government.
Azmin’s team meanwhile alleged that all parties would agree with BERSATU’s move to work with UNNO and PAS. After going to the Palace in a hope to seal the deal, Azmin invited political leaders from UMNO, PAS and BERSATU to dinner at the Sheraton PJ Hotel. This “Sheraton Move” will go down in history as an attempt to steal the mandate of the people.
Given the increasingly critical situation, on the morning of 24 February the main leadership of PH sought to immediately meet with Dr Mahathir. Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Mohamad Sabu and Lim Guan Eng tried to persuade him.
However, after this discussion, Tun Dr Mahathir decided to resign. That the same day, BERSATU announced they would leave PH. Tun Dr Mahathir was appointed interim Prime Minister until a new premier could be appointed.
That evening, the PH Presidential Council held an emergency meeting. Our leaders invited Tun Dr Mahahtir to chair it, but he declined. The meeting unanimously nominated him as Pakatan’s candidate for Prime Minister in accordance with the PH’s consensus and the mandate the people had given to us.
An idea for a unity or non-party government was floated. PH was against this because we felt that it went against the principles of constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The existence of political parties is crucial for checks-and-balances. Their absence would cast serious doubts about the two pillars of our nation-Constitutional Monarchy and Parliamentary Democracy.
On 28 February, when the other parties switched their support to Muhyiddin, Anwar and PH agreed for Dr Mahathir to be our prime ministerial candidate once more.
The crisis was a severe test for Anwar’s leadership and patience, but he decided to forsake the position for the sake of the nation.
The entire affair has been most upsetting, especially as many of our politicians came across as seemingly not having firm stands or appreciating the mandate given to them by the people.
One fears that the youth will become disillusioned and disgusted with the political games they have witnessed. Whether consciously or unconsciously, our own behaviour as leaders is often the reason why the youth refuse to get involved in politics.
There are many lessons to be drawn from this sad, sordid affair. At the very least, it has shown us who our real friends are.
Moreover, the people will now be able to judge who has truly upheld or betrayed their trust.