KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad and five Members of Parliament (MPs) aligned to him announced on Friday (Jul 10) that they will remain as an independent bloc and will not join any coalition.
In a joint statement, they said they are also standing by with a decision made in June to nominate Sabah Chief Minister Mohd Shafie Apdal as candidate for prime minister.
Mr Mohd Shafie is the president of Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan).
“For our part, Shafie’s nomination as prime minister candidate is a positive step that needs to be taken. Not only because we believe in his ability to obtain majority support, but it is also a step towards improving relations between the (Malaysian) peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak,” the joint statement said.
Dr Mahathir and the five MPs said they will stick with Warisan as an independent bloc both in and out of the parliament.
Five of them, including Dr Mahathir and his son Mr Mukhriz Mahathir, had their Bersatu party membership terminated after they chose not to sit with the ruling coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) led by Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin during the May 18 parliament sitting.
Dr Shahruddin Md Salleh, meanwhile, resigned as deputy works minister on Jun 4, as he said that he had made a wrong move in joining PN.
READ: Mahathir says where he sits in parliament is not a cause for dismissal, insists he remains Bersatu chairman
The statement highlighted that Mr Mohd Shafie's name was suggested in a meeting between leaders from Warisan, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Dr Mahathir on Jun 25.
“My friends from Bersatu and I agreed and supported the suggestion, because we wanted to solve the impasse in finding a suitable candidate who could get support to return the people’s mandate from the current government,” the statement said.
However, following another meeting on Jul 6, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Presidential Council, comprising the top leadership of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Amanah and DAP issued another statement reaffirming their support for PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as PH’s candidate for the premiership.
At the same time, the council also gave Mr Anwar “full mandate” to continue disucssions with all parties, including Mr Shafie.
The opposition’s deadlock over their choice of prime minister candidate, in the event of wresting back Putrajaya from the ruling coalition led by Mr Muhyiddin Yassin, has been in the spotlight since PH’s collapse back in February.
As PH aims to reclaim federal power, the opposition has been plagued by disagreement over the candidate for the prime minister, particularly between Mr Anwar and Dr Mahathir.
In the proposal for Mr Shafie as prime minister, Mr Anwar and Mr Mukhriz would serve as deputy prime ministers.
The Malaysian parliament will sit on Jul 13, it’s first full sitting for the PN government after the House met for only an hour back in May to hear the king’s address.