KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and his group of former PKR lawmakers purported tonight that they had attempted to protect Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad from being undermined by Pakatan Harapan.
In a statement issued after the group gathered at a hotel here, they claimed the attempt to have Dr Mahathir set a date to step down as prime minister would have removed his authority and consigned him to being a “lame duck PM”.
“This is because changing prime minister mid-term sends the wrong signal to the public and investors. A mid-term power transition will jeopardise the continuity of policies and public perception of the PH administration.
“As such, we took proactive steps to foil this conspiracy to depose the prime minister mid-term,” they said in a statement.
It is unclear why they referred to the matter as a conspiracy as PH has presented the transition as taking place within two years of the 14th general election since before the 2018 poll.
Although it was later revealed that there was no formal agreement on the timeline for Dr Mahathir to hand over the post to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the two-year period has been consistently mentioned.
Azmin’s group also insisted that they were trying to safeguard confidence in the stability and implementation of the federal government’s policies.
They then denied that they have betrayed the Pakatan Harapan government, maintaining that the real traitors were those they alleged had attempted to seize the power of the prime minister.
Besides Azmin, others who appended their name to the statement include Zuraida Kamaruddin, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, and Baru Bian. All four had been members of Dr Mahathir’s now-vacated Cabinet.
They were joined by Datuk Kamaruddin Jaffar, Datuk Mansor Othman, Datuk Rashid Hasnon, Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar, Ali Biju, Willie Mongin, and Jonathan Yassin.
PKR sacked Azmin and Zuraida earlier today, prompting the 11 to say they have quit the party.
Dr Mahathir resigned as the prime minister this afternoon and was appointed the interim PM by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong until a successor is named.
Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali also confirmed tonight that the appointments of all federal ministers were revoked following Dr Mahathir’s resignation.
Aside from the departure of Azmin’s faction from PKR, Bersatu also announced that it was leaving PH.
The departures meant the coalition no longer commanded the simple majority needed to continue as the government.