Dr M: I didn’t invite anyone to form new govt

Dr Mahathir Mohamad says Umno and PAS leaders had approached him.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today he did not invite anyone to form a new government under the “Pakatan Nasional” banner, adding that his openness about meeting opposition leaders had been misinterpreted by some.

Mahathir said in a media interview that Umno and PAS leaders had approached him as they realised their parties had significantly weakened following the last general elections.

“And as a weak party, they’re forced to change their approach, whereby they are willing to support but with conditions even if unspoken,” he said.

“The condition is that the decisions I make are suitable to their views. So it’s not always that they support, it’s just that when it’s agreeable and suitable to them, they will support,” he said in the interview with new online news portal Malaya Post.

The interview, conducted by Nur Suryani Megat Deraman, was held at the Yayasan Al-Bukhary in Kuala Lumpur, with video broadcast via Facebook.

Last month, FMT reported that private meetings between Mahathir and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang might foreshadow the re-entry of PAS into federal power, a move that might sideline the DAP and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim.

The new alignment would bring together forces aligned to Mahathir with the clout that PAS holds in the northern Malay heartland.

Earlier this week Umno Supreme Council member Lokman Noor Adam raised the possibility of the new coalition coming about, after alleging that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi supported the plan as a way to avoid trial on corruption charges.

The rumoured coalition of PPBM teaming up with PAS and Umno has drawn criticism from various Pakatan Harapan leaders, with PKR president Anwar Ibrahim saying it was just “propaganda” played up by the opposition.

However Hadi said today the party was open to the formation of a “Pakatan Nasional” government, while Umno secretary-general Annuar Musa dismissed it as being merely speculative.

In today’s press interview, Mahathir said that a new alignment might strengthen the government’s position, but it did not mean that government leaders could count on support from their party counterparts for every decision.

“They will not support if the government makes a decision that goes against their party’s principles,” the PH chairman added.

He said he was always open to meeting the leaders from societies, religious bodies and even across the political divide because he wanted to gather their views.

“There are some who interpret my meetings with opposition party leaders to mean that I’m working on establishing a new coalition. This is not true.

“If I don’t know their opinions, I won’t be able to handle problems that arise.”