Dr Mahathir says yes to ‘big tent’ but no to Anwar or Muhyiddin at the top

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Mahathir said Umno was the only party eager for a general election now as it wants to capitalise on its current wave of popularity and regain complete federal power. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Mahathir said Umno was the only party eager for a general election now as it wants to capitalise on its current wave of popularity and regain complete federal power. — Picture by Hari Anggara

By Shahrin Aizat Noorshahrizam

Friday, 03 Jun 2022 11:02 AM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — A “big tent” approach to the Opposition would be viable if it were not led by either PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or Bersatu’s Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said Pejuang chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

In an interview with Utusan Malaysia, the former prime minister said his party was open to such an approach but he disagreed that it should be led by those whom he accused of pursuing their personal agendas.

“We find that many political parties that exist now do not directly pay attention to the country’s problems.

“They just pay attention and take action on their own politics whether they can lead the party, be a candidate or be an elected representative, be a minister, that’s their focus,” he was quoted as saying.

Despite his apparent disapproval for Anwar or Muhyiddin, Dr Mahathir did not offer a suggestion for whom he believed should lead such a grand coalition.

When it was suggested that he might again be the prime minister of such a coalition, Dr Mahathir said that while he would prefer to only be an advisor, there were many who insisted he was still capable of leading.

“But who knows? People get very angry when I said I didn’t want to stand (for elections),” he added.

When asked when the next general election should be held, Dr Mahathir said now was not the right time and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob should be allowed to see out this parliamentary term.

He said Umno was the only party eager for a general election now as it wants to capitalise on its current wave of popularity and regain complete federal power.

“Such an election is not a real election. We should have time for all parties to be ready to contest. At that time the people can choose,” he added.

After three successful state election campaigns, Umno is pressuring Ismail Sabri to call a general election now in order for BN to regain full control of the federal government, which the coalition lost for the first time in 2018 to Pakatan Harapan.

While BN is back as the government of the day, it was part of an informal partnership that included Perikatan Nasional, which is an allied coalition only in name.

Ismail Sabri previously expressed reluctance to call a general election now, saying rising inflation and other economic problems in the country made it a poor time to go to the polls.

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