KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s interim prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday (Feb 26) that he wants to lead a non-partisan government.
In a televised address, the 94-year-old called for politics and political parties to be set aside for the time being.
"If permitted, I will try to establish an administration that does not favour any party. Only the country's interests will be prioritised," he said.
Dr Mahathir tendered his resignation on Monday.
The king accepted his resignation on the same day, and appointed Dr Mahathir as interim prime minister. All ministers were relieved of their duties.
RESIGNED TO QUASH "POWER HUNGRY" ACCUSATIONS
"There were many reasons for my resignation, but it is enough for me to say that I felt I had support from all parties. I did not know which party to choose," said Dr Mahathir.
"There have also been accusations that I did not want to resign and was power hungry. So I resigned because I don't think of power as the be all and end all."
For him, status and power are merely "a means to an end" to improve the country, said Dr Mahathir.
He said he had earlier promised to resign for the parliament to decide who should succeed him as prime minister.
“If it is true that I still command the support, I will come back. If not, I will accept anyone who has been chosen.
“The opportunity to change leadership was there. But I felt, because I had the support of both sides, the time for me to step down has not come yet.”
CANNOT ACCEPT UMNO IN GOVERNMENT
Dr Mahathir said he asked for time, but his party Bersatu decided to leave Pakatan Harapan (PH).
The split, and with members of other parties withdrawing from the coalition, would lead to a collapse of the PH government, he said.
He added that should Bersatu work with Parti Islam Se-Malaysia and the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) - parties that had lost the elections - to form a government, this government would be dominated by UMNO by virtue of it being the biggest party.
"I am willing to accept UMNO members if they leave UMNO and join other parties. But UMNO would be joining this coalition goverment as UMNO. I would not accept this.
"So I had no choice but to resign," he said, while offering his apologies if his resignation has been a wrong move.