KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today appeared on national television to offer a public apology over his decision to resign as prime minister early this week, and asked to be given the opportunity to find a solution to the ongoing crisis caused by the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
He said he felt such a solution lies in the formation of a government that is free of partisan politics.
“As a normal human being, I also make mistakes. I apologise if my resignation was a mistake,” Mahathir, who has since been appointed as the interim prime minister following the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan government, said in a special broadcast on government channel RTM.
“Whether right or wrong, I feel that politics and partisan politics should be ignored for now. If allowed, I would try to form an administration that does not side with any party. Only national interests will be given priority,” he said.
In the brief live broadcast, Mahathir said there were many reasons for his resignation.
He said among the speculations was that he thought he had support from all quarters to the extent that he was spoilt for choice.
“There were accusations that I had no intention of resigning and I was power crazy.
“So I resigned because I did not see power and position as a ‘be all and end all’.
“To me, power and position are a means to an end or a tool to achieve the objective,” he said, adding that the objective was to ensure the best for the country.
Mahathir said he also resigned because it seemed to him that the most important thing to most politicians was which party was in power.
In fact, he said, he had promised to resign to give the Dewan Rakyat a chance to determine who should replace him.
“If it is true that I still have the support, I shall return. If not, I will accept whoever is chosen.”
He said there was, therefore, an opportunity for a change in leadership.
However, he felt that it was not time for him to step down as he was supported by both parties
“I asked to be given time. But my party PPBM decided to leave Pakatan Harapan. There will also be others from other component parties who will leave. Due to this, Pakatan Harapan will fall,” he said.
Mahathir said as a result, if PPBM threw its support for PAS and Umno, the parties that had lost would be the ones forming the government.
“This government will be dominated by Umno as the biggest party.”
Mahathir said he was willing to accept Umno members that had left the party but he could not accept having Umno as a party in the coalition forming the government.
“I cannot accept this so I had to resign,” he said.
Mahathir said as interim prime minister, he realised that whatever he tried to do now would be opposed by many. However, there could also be some who might give their support.
“I am not seeking to be liked by many. I am only doing what I think is best for the country.”
Mahathir said many politicians and political parties were so focused on politics that they had forgotten the country was facing economic challenges and also the threat from Covid-19.
As such, he hoped to be given the chance to form an administration that would not side with any party and instead, focus on the country’s interests.