Name your PM or retire, Mahathir told


PETALING JAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad should announce who he wants to be Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, to stop all the speculation that the former premier is paving the way for his son, Mukhriz, says the prime minister’s press secretary, Tengku Sarifuddin Ahmad.

Responding to a statement by Mukhriz that he did not intend to be Prime Minister, Tengku Sarifuddin asked: “Why then did he contest to be Umno vice president in 2013?”

He said everyone involved in Malaysian politics knew that only someone who aspired to be Umno president, and then prime minister by default would stand for election as an Umno vice-president. “It is a key step on the ladder to the top,” he said. We all know that he or his father did want him to climb the ladder, because he stood for election as vice president.”

Dr Mahathir, who is leading the Save Malaysia campaign to oust Najib Razak as Umno president and prime minister, has refused to name anyone as a replacement. Last week he rejected a suggestion that deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi could be a caretaker prime minister.

Tengku Sarifuddin said all the speculation could be stopped if Dr Mahathir named his choice of candidates for Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

“Why does he always avoid answering this one simple but essential question? Why is he consistently evasive about his plans for Mukhriz’s political future?”

He suggested that Mukhriz’s failure to be elected an Umno vice-president may have caused him to contradict himself, by saying he didn’t want to climb the ladder, or that Mukhriz was prompted by his father to make the denial.

“If Tun Mahathir wants his attempt to unseat the Prime Minister to have any credibility, he must at least give a straight answer on who the alternative candidate is. If he still refuses, he should stop this distraction for Malaysia and quietly retire with the grace that people expect of a former statesman,” Tengku Sarifuddin said.

He said it was the people of Malaysia who were entitled to democratically choose their government and prime minister at the next general election, and not one man, Mahathir.

Last week, Mahathir acknowledged that his campaign to oust Najib Razak had been an embarrassment to his son Mukhriz, but denied that his campaign was to install Mukhriz as the future prime minister. He said the right time to have placed his family members to succeed him was when he was in power. However he had forbidden his children to hold office in Umno to avoid charges of nepotism.