PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed the coalition’s plan to introduce unprecedented checks on the office of the Malaysian prime minister should the opposition wrest control of the government from the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the upcoming election.
The PPBM chairman, who was prime minister himself from 1981 to 2003, said the plan was to help curb abuse of power, and ensure there was separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial arms of the government.
A key move in the plan was to restrict the duration an individual could hold the prime minister’s post, probably to two consecutive terms.
“Perhaps we will limit the prime minister’s tenure to two terms. One term (five years) is too short to do anything. I think two terms (ten years) is fine,” Mahathir, 92, was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini today.
“But we need a statutory provision for that, we need a third body that can take action on the prime minister to limit his or her powers,” he told a dialogue on the direction of Malay politics, organised by Amanah at Putrajaya.
The opposition proposal was first aired publicly by PPBM vice-president Mukhriz Mahathir on Sept 23 last year when he said it was important to avoid management crises and abuse of power as allegedly seen with the current Barisan Nasional administration.
Mukhriz also addressed the inevitable question of why Mahathir, whose administration was criticised for high-handedness such as jailing dissenters without trial and curtailing the power of the judiciary, had not imposed such conditions when he governed the country.
“Maybe there will be those who will say that Dr Mahathir Mohamad was the prime minister for 22 years,” he said.
“But that was then. After what has happened with (current prime minister) Najib Razak, this has to change. We don’t want the same thing to happen again.
“So let it be a practice that a person may only remain as the prime minister for two terms, if the rakyat allows him to stay on for the second term,” Mukhriz added.
On Oct 4 last year, Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub said the term limit would allow the prime minister to retire gracefully while retaining the respect of the people.
He said the limit could be introduced through legislation by amending Article 40 (3) of the Federal Constitution which requires a two-third majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.
He said it could also be done as a “convention” and that the opposition would hold discussions with academics and elderly statesmen to fine-tune the initiative.