PETALING JAYA, Oct 19: A political analyst does not believe that Dr Mahathir Mohamad has the majority support of MPs to become prime minister for the third time in his lifetime.
The analyst, Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya, said Mahathir would have great difficulty in pulling off the feat, as the possibility of working with either the current government or opposition seemed to be waning by the day.
Mahathir’s new party, Pejuang, of which he is pro-tem chairman, has nominated him to be prime minister again, saying he was needed to head an interim government until the next general election in order to “save the country”.
However, Awang Azman noted that even MPs who were once Mahathir’s strong supporters – including former PPBM Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman – have started to distance themselves from him.
He also noted that another Mahathir protege, Maszlee Malik, had also reportedly signed a statutory declaration in support of Anwar Ibrahim, who seeks to force the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
“So, for now, I don’t see Mahathir having the numbers to be prime minister for the third time,” Awang Azman told FMT.
“There are at least two big parties, Umno and PKR, that won’t agree (with Mahathir becoming prime minister). Umno was under pressure when Mahathir was prime minister of the Pakatan Harapan government, with many leaving the party to join PPBM.
“PKR would surely want its president, Anwar, to be prime minister, not Mahathir,” he said.
Earlier this week, Anwar said he had informed the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that he had obtained convincing support from a majority of MPs, allowing him to form a new government.
Another political analyst, Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said Mahathir was trying to accomplish the “almost impossible” by bringing down Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin while also preventing Anwar from helming the top post.
He played down talk of Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah making a dash for the premiership as probably being just a ploy, although it was possible for the Kelantan prince to be made Mahathir’s deputy.
“I cannot tell if Mahathir has the numbers, but all of them are trying. Anwar is trying, Muhyiddin is trying to hold on, it would appear that Ku Li (Razaleigh) is teaming up with Mahathir. It really depends on what kind of offer they can give,” he told FMT.
He added that the Mahathir-Ku Li combination would probably only be open to Umno MPs whom Mahathir “liked” or did not consider to be “tainted”.
Awang Azman said Pejuang was just taking advantage of the ongoing political crisis by naming Mahathir as its candidate for the top post.
He said pictures of Ku Li with Mahathir were used to give the perception that there might be some form of cooperation between the two veteran leaders, although no official statements have been issued.
He said Mahathir’s attitude made any cooperation with other parties difficult, adding that it was highly improbable for him to work with Muhyiddin after the numerous criticisms levelled at the prime minister.
Early last week, Mahathir submitted a fresh no-confidence motion against Muhyiddin, after an earlier attempt in May did not succeed for lack of time at the Dewan Rakyat.
Other similar motions have been submitted to the Speaker.