Who Will be Malaysia's Next Prime Minister?
How was your Monday? On 24th February 2020, Malaysians started off the day with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as our Prime Minister. By lunchtime, he had submitted his resignation to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
Around dinner time, Tun M’s resignation was accepted, but Malaysia’s fourth and seventh Prime Minister was reappointed as the interim Prime Minister. Talk about Monday blues.
Why did Tun M resign as Malaysia’s Prime Minister?
On 23rd February 2020, news broke out that the former deputy president of the People’s Justice Party (PKR), Azmin Ali, attended a special meeting in Sheraton Hotel, where party leaders aligned to him gathered ahead of a rumoured new political coalition involving a faction led by him.
The meeting was also attended by MPs of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) and Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), as well as those from Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and Sabah’s Warisan. In total, around 130 MPs attended the ‘unity dinner’.
According to the Sarawak Report, Azmin used Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s scheduled meeting with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the 24th February 2020, to set up anger and concern in Mahathir’s camp, Bersatu. Azmin’s political ploy was heavily based on rumours that Anwar would be using the meeting to stamp his claim on the Prime Minister’s position.
The stage was set for Azmin’s ploy to send Tun M forming a new government following Anwar’s supposed “betrayal”. As a result, the Pakatan Harapan coalition was at risk with UMNO leaders also refusing to work together with members of the Democratic Action Party (DAP). Rumours of a Pakatan Nasional, consisting of Bersatu, PAS, UMNO, GPS, Warisan, Azmin and a handful of PKR members was abuzz on social media.
However, things didn’t go as planned as Tun M’s resignation as Malaysia’s seventh Prime Minister and from his position in Bersatu sent shockwaves across the country.
Malaysia and its very own Game of Thrones
According to the Sarawak Report, Tun M and Anwar reconciled as the latter paid an early visit to the former on 24th February 2020. This marked a massive turning point as Azmin’s plan to force himself into a position of power led to his downfall. He was sacked from PKR, together with vice president Zuraida Kamaruddin. According to Malaysiakini, nine other MPs quit PKR and joined Azmin.
This major political twist came around the time when Pakatan Harapan leaders, Anwar and Lim Guan Eng backed Tun M and cleared his name from any attempt to manipulate the public by forming a backdoor government. When asked about how he felt about the “betrayal” by Bersatu and certain PKR leaders, Lim said his feelings were secondary to what Malaysians feel.
“They feel confused with all this manipulation and political chicanery. It’s like Game of Thrones. It is unnecessary. Why is there all this drama when we should focus on improving the economy and livelihood of Malaysians,” said Lim during a press conference held yesterday afternoon.
The Minister of Finance also cleared the air on Tun M’s resignation. “This consistency and principled stand in rejecting a corrupt UMNO should be supported by all Malaysians,” he said. Lim added that this is the first time that a Malaysian Prime Minister is prepared to resign on principle to uphold integrity and combat corruption.
Who will become Malaysia’s next Prime Minister?
By evening, Chief Secretary to the Government Datuk Seri Mohd Zuki Ali announced that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has accepted Tun M’s resignation as the seventh Prime Minister, but has now reappointed him to hold the position in the interim.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also ceased the duties of the administration members including the Deputy Prime Minister, ministers, deputies and political secretaries. Additionally, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong will be conducting interviews with all 222 members of parliament to select Malaysia’s Prime Minister. The two day, one-on-one interviews which kicked off at 2.30pm today, will last for two – three minutes each.
It remains to be seen what happens over the next couple of days, as Malaysia’s political state remains in a limbo. Will Anwar finally get his opportunity to become Prime Minister, or would Wan Azizah step up to become the country’s first female leader?
However, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to witness Malaysia’s fourth and seventh Prime Minister become its eighth, in what would truly be a reverse, Uno, and Uno game scenario.