PETALING JAYA – A vague remark by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the power transition issue has ruffled feathers among several Pakatan Harapan MPs, with some saying that a lack of clarity over the matter could bring about an adverse impact.
Other MPs were also doubtful of PAS’ decision to table a vote of confidence in Dr Mahathir’s leadership as they are questioning whether it means that the Islamist party is expressing support for Pakatan’s manifesto.
Outspoken Klang MP Charles Santiago said the economy and regular Malaysians will be on the receiving end if the promised power transition to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim isn’t resolved in an open and transparent manner.
“Racial politics is very toxic and it’s just going to get worse. My view is that we need to focus on the economy, creating jobs and improving the quality of life.
“Issues such as the power transition…Investors might not look at Malaysia favourably,” he said.
At the same time, Santiago, in labelling PAS as opportunistic, also questioned whether its support for Dr Mahathir to remain as prime minister for a full term is a symbol of its approval towards the Pakatan manifesto and leadership.
“Because Dr Mahathir is the Malaysian Prime Minister and the Pakatan chairman, does that mean they actually accept the Pakatan leadership and its reform idea? This isn’t clear.”
Meanwhile, Kapar MP Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid, an outspoken supporter of Anwar, said that Dr Mahathir must honour his promise.
“It’s already been two years for him to put everything in order. He already did his job, which is an excellent job, so he has to surrender (premiership). He has to honour whatever he said.”
Abdullah Sani also cast doubt on whether PAS’ plans to table a vote of confidence on Dr Mahathir’s leadership would come into fruition in the coming Parliamentary sitting next month.
He cited Article 18(1) of the Standing Order, which stated that it is the Speaker’s prerogative to allow a vote of confidence motion to take place in Parliament.
“If the Speaker does not think that it’s urgent, then how are they going to go through with that? Do they (PAS leaders) understand this or not?” he questioned.
Tanjung Malim MP and PKR vice-president Chang Lih Kang, without mincing his words, said PAS should stop meddling in the affairs of the Pakatan coalition.
“The current government or the Prime Minister was not confronted with any confidence crisis.”
Chang also said that PAS should not be taken seriously by Malaysians due to its “chameleonic stance”.
“I’m confident that Dr Mahathir will fulfil his promise. It is not only his personal promise but it is also a Pakatan promise,” he added.
In Penang, Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai believed the succession plan would happen eventually and it would be decided and discussed by the leadership council of Pakatan.
He said naturally, Dr Mahathir as the Prime Minister already commanded the support of the ruling government, which has the majority in Parliament.
“By rule of thumb, he is already commanding support. If he does not, he couldn’t call for a Cabinet meeting and government legislation could not be passed,” he said when contacted.
Wong said whether Anwar has the numbers or not is a non-issue because the transfer of power would be done within the ruling coalition, not a motion in Parliament or votes during the handover.
He said the selection of who was to lead a country was done between political parties and its coalition, such as in England and other nations that practise a similar kind of government.
“It is the same here. If the Prime Minister hands over the premiership to another person, it is done within the ruling government, not through motions in Parliament,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, during an interview with Malaya Post TV on Saturday night, stated that his promise to hand over power to Anwar remains, but that a prime minister must command the support of the majority in Parliament.
He said MPs hold the power to decide and even he could not be prime minister if he did not have their majority support.
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto, meanwhile, said what was uttered by Dr Mahathir was right as that is enshrined in the Constitution.
“He is right. Even when his name was proposed as prime minister, it was also by the consensus that we all agreed for him being the prime minister as Pakatan MPs have the numbers in Parliament.
“It is not a two-third majority, but it is still a simple majority.
“So what he said is not entirely wrong, but from the way he expressed it, it is as if he cuci tangan (wash his hands off) and let Parliament decide, ” she said.
Kasthuri also believed the handover is imminent, as it was something that all Pakatan MPs had to adhere to and it has been said many times.
Penang PKR Youth chief Fahmi Zainol meanwhile urged Dr Mahathir to prove that he is “a man of his word”.
He said Dr Mahathir must show the people that he would fulfil his promise to hand over the premiership to Anwar.
“The support of Pakatan MPs in Parliament is enough for Anwar to be the eighth prime minister,” he said.
Fahmi said the way Dr Mahathir raised many issues and concerns about the succession plan could show that he was not sincere in fulfilling his words.
He urged Dr Mahathir to retire gracefully before his time was up.
“He actually has created history for himself, and if he is wise, he should hand over the premiership honourably,” he said.
He said if Dr Mahathir still clings to power, his contributions as a person who holds the prime minister post twice would be erased.
However, veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin was of the opinion that only the MPs in the 222-seat Dewan Rakyat would determine Dr Mahathir’s successor as the eighth prime minister.
While noting it was a Pakatan Harapan promise that Anwar will take over as the next prime minister, Kadir pointed out that only the candidate who enjoys the support of the majority of MPs can be sworn in as premier.
“In case of a dispute, a vote of confidence can be called to determine if the candidate has the support of the majority.
“This is allowed but in the past it was unnecessary because the ruling party was in firm control of the House and the selection of the PM candidate was unanimous,” said the Prime Minister’s media adviser in a Facebook post yesterday.
“This is a test of a mature democracy. Let us celebrate it,” he added.
PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man told reporters on Saturday that the Islamist party would be tabling a vote of confidence for Dr Mahathir’s leadership when the Parliament sitting commences next March.
In order for a vote of confidence to succeed in Parliament, it requires the support of a simple majority in the house, which is 112 out of 222 MPs.