KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Just days after saying he did not mind being labelled a “traitor”, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin denied being one today and offered his version of the political chess play that saw him part ways with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Bersatu president claimed it was Dr Mahathir who had opted to pull the party out of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition back when the latter was its chairman.
Muhyiddin said he needed to step forward and issued his own clarifications over Dr Mahathir's remark that he was willing to forgive him for claiming Muhyiddin had “stabbed him in the back” to correct the “skewed” perception others had of him.
"Actually it was Tun Mahathir who started the movement for Bersatu to quit PH.
"But he made a U-turn at the last minute when the PH presidential council in its February 21, 2020 meeting made the decision to continue to support him as prime minister,” he said in a lengthy Facebook post.
He recalled how Dr Mahathir had been under pressure from several people in PH to step down as prime minister mid-term so PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim could take over.
"After the PH presidential council made the decision, Dr Mahathir tried to convince the Bersatu supreme council to remain in PH but the council unanimously decided otherwise," Muhyiddin said.
However, he said Dr Mahathir failed, and chose to resign as prime minister on February 24.
"On the morning of February 24, I met him at his home. At that time, he did not disclose to me his intent to resign.
"When I went home, I received a letter from Tun Dr Mahathir informing me that he was resigning as Bersatu chairman, PM and from all government positions, of which a copy of the letter was also forwarded to Istana Negara.
"The reason given in Dr Mahathir's resignation letter to me is that he no longer has the support of the party's supreme council and therefore resigned because he was dissatisfied with Bersatu's decision to quit PH," Muhyiddin said.
He claimed to be stunned by Dr Mahathir’s revelations in the letter and added that he rushed to the former PM’s home to persuade him to retract his decision. He said he failed.
According to Muhyiddin, other leaders from PAS, Umno, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and Parti Warisan also attempted to persuade Dr Mahathir and failed.
Muhyiddin said Dr Mahathir should never have resigned even though he was disappointed with the supreme council's decision since there were 138 statutory declaration (SD) by MPs voicing their support for him to stay on as PM.
"I was one of those who signed the SD. Meaning even though Bersatu left PH, his position as prime minister was never going to be affected. Unfortunately, he resigned on his own accord.
Accordingly, if a prime minister resigns, a new prime minister must be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as per Article 43(2) of the Federal Constitution.
As party president, Muhyiddin said he then chaired a special supreme council meeting to voice the party's support for Dr Mahathir as PM; at the same time, president from PAS and Umno proposed for him to be nominated instead.
"I rejected that notion because the party's decision was to support Dr Mahathir.
"Unfortunately, Dr Mahathir failed to obtain a parliamentary majority and a big portion of the MPs who had previously signed the SD decided to withdraw their support for him.
"It was at that time I was once approached by those from PAS and Umno who state their support for me as PM since they said this is the only way to save the country from uncertainty," Muhyiddin said.
As a sign of respect, Muhyiddin said he met with Dr Mahathir to ask for the latter's support.
"He said he was prepared to support me if I managed to obtain a majority support from MPs.
"Yet, he made another U-turn when he nominated himself as PM to go against me. So did I stabbed him from behind? Was I traitorous?
"I am not a traitor," Muhyiddin said.