Wait and see, Dr M says on PAS support

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad inspects the guard of honour at the defence ministry in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he will adopt a wait-and-see approach to talk of PAS’ support for him, amid speculation of a no-confidence vote against the prime minister.

“I will wait and see if there is a vote of no confidence, (and) if PAS will support me or not,” he told reporters after a visit to the defence ministry here today.

Talk of a no-confidence vote was triggered by a claim by PAS that it had pledged to support the prime minister in the event of a betrayal from Pakatan Harapan (PH) politicians.

PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan even said that a letter of commitment to the effect was recently delivered to Mahathir.

However, the claim was dismissed by PH leaders including Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.

Mahathir also confirmed today that a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) would be set up to probe allegations of misconduct in the judiciary.

“We are setting up the RCI, and it will be up to them (the commission),” he said.

When asked on the parameters of the RCI, he said these would be determined later.

On Feb 14, Court of Appeal judge Hamid Sultan Abu Backer filed an affidavit outlining alleged misconduct by unidentified judges.

The 65-page document was filed in support of lawyer Sangeet Kaur Deo’s court application, seeking a declaration that Chief Justice Richard Malanjum had failed in his duty to complete investigations into two widely publicised cases of judicial interference.

Mahathir also spoke on the civil service which he said was bloated.

In a question-and-answer session with the armed forces, he said there were one million staff members when he retired in 2003. Now, there were 1.7 million.

“The civil service is too big,” he said. “But if we reduce the size, there could be unemployment and it might cause social problems.”

He said the country should focus on manufacturing and the private sector, as this could bring in revenue.

He also said the technology to develop weapons was now far more advanced.

“If we can understand it, we can develop it,” he added.

Mahathir, who was defence minister from 1981 to 1986, said the world faced different challenges in this era of globalisation.

“It used to be guerrilla fights, but now it’s threats of terrorism and trade war.

“The defence ministry has a responsibility to look at these developments and help the government make suitable diplomatic decisions.

“We should remain neutral, but not to a level where the country’s sovereignty is challenged.”

When asked about his upcoming trip to China, he said it was to learn more about the Belt and Road initiative.