PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he has rejected Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik’s letters of resignation.
“Yes, I received the letters a long time ago but I have not agreed with his intention to retire,” he told reporters here yesterday when asked about Dr Ling’s statement on Tuesday that he had submitted a resignation letter in May 2000 and another in August last year.
Dr Mahathir said Dr Ling had left it to him to decide on the matter, adding that he needed to study it first before making a final decision.
He said he would make a decision when the time was right.
Dr Ling, when asked whether Dr Mahathir’s reluctance to accept his offer to quit was a sign that the Prime Minister wanted him to stay on, said: “I don’t want to read the Prime Minister’s mind.
“I have great respect for Dr Mahathir and I am very grateful and thankful to him.”
Stressing that it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative to decide, Dr Ling said: “I am a loyalist and a good soldier.
“I have taken orders from my bosses all along; as a young schoolboy, young medical officer and until I became a minister.
“Generals must make decisions and soldiers must obey,” he said.
Asked what prompted Dr Mahathir to reveal the Aug 15 letter at Tuesday’s Barisan supreme council meeting, despite having received it more than four months ago, Dr Ling said: “You must not ask Dr Ling to read the mind of the Prime Minister.”
On why he (Dr Ling) decided to tell the media about his intention to resign, Dr Ling said he wanted to prevent any speculation.
On whether his resignation would take place before the Prime Minister stepped down in October, he said: “I don’t want to answer a speculative question.”
Dr Ling also said that he did not want to speculate, when asked whether his resignation, if it took place, would jeopardise the situation in MCA which had started to recover after a 14-month crisis in April last year.
Asked who would recommend the person to succeed him as Transport Minister if he quit, Dr Ling said the party president would make the recommendation to the Prime Minister.
Dr Ling, whose term as MCA president ends in 2005, also said he had no intention to step down from his party post before that.
“My term stretches until 2005. I am not thinking of any plan (to step down) right now,” he said.
Dr Ling, 59, has been at the party’s helm since 1986.
He was returned unopposed at the party’s triennial elections last July.
Asked whether he would lead MCA in the next general election, which is due in 2004 , he replied: “I don’t want to speculate.”