KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Veteran statesman Tun Daim Zainuddin has defended the decision by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to resign as prime minister on February 24, suggesting circumstances had compelled him to do so.
The former Council of Eminent Persons chief made the claim during an interview with Malaysiakini and several other media outlets, and it is thought that he was referring to a Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council meeting that took place on February 23.
“It really is not as simple as to whether he had made a mistake or not. It was not as if he could have taken time to consider all avenues,” Daim was quoted as saying in response to a question on whether the 94-year-old former prime minister had made a mistake.
“He had to make a decision quickly. It is easy to say it was a mistake, after the fact. But under those circumstances then, was it?” Daim said.
He was also critical of the new Perikatan Nasional (PN) government formed in the wake of PH’s collapse, in which Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was appointed as the prime minister, after taking his party out of PH.
“My principle has not changed but it is a question of legitimacy. The parties concerned can set up whatever coalition they want, but doing so to form a new government is not in line with the rakyat’s will.
“The rakyat voted for a Pakatan government in 2018 to rule for five years until a new general election is called, and that needs to be respected. The PN government’s formation disrespects that mandate,” Daim was quoted as saying.
Similarly, he expressed worry at the lack of non-Malay representation in the PN government, adding the members from MCA and MIC are mere “token appointments” since they lacked sufficient parliamentary seats.
Daim also dismissed the appointment of MCA politicians to GLC positions, saying they have no influence over how the government is run.
The staunch Mahathir loyalist, who served as finance minister from 1984 to 1991, also expressed scepticism at the tenacity of the cooperation between Umno, PAS and Bersatu, since it will be challenged when it comes to seat allocations for the 15th general election as all three strive to gain the lion’s share of Malay-Muslim votes.
“I am unsure how three competing coalition members will be able to satisfy their members on ground. Will the push-and-pull from the ground destabilise the government machinery and interrupt the multi-ministerial initiatives planned for the rakyat?” he questioned.
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