PETALING JAYA: As the infighting within Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) continues, a leaked audio recording allegedly depicting the party's final supreme council meeting before it quit Pakatan Harapan has made its rounds on social media.
In the one-minute audio recording, a voice that sounds like party president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin can be heard saying that chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was entrusted with the mandate to pull Bersatu out of Pakatan.
"We hope Dr Mahathir will conduct a Cabinet reshuffle before Parliament reconvenes ... settle everything within this week. Maybe we can also wait until Dr Mahathir meets with party leaders.
"Okay, we wait for one week. ... It is a bit emotional today and we are deliberating about the most important issue in history, which is out of Pakatan, but we will still be the government. Government led by Bersatu, that is important.
“So if it's appropriate, we want to end our meeting today and after that, we will give the mandate to Dr Mahathir? Agree?" the man said, to which meeting participants responded with "setuju (agree)”.
The male voice was also heard saying that Dr Mahathir's decision should not be disputed, given his “wisdom”.
"We have never doubted the wisdom of Dr Mahathir, there must be some wisdom. He has been prime minister for so long, we have to respect him.
"So, we have to do whatever he says. If that's the case, we can end the meeting. Our decision is to respect Dr Mahathir's opinion, we understand what he means but give a bit of time," he said.
According to sources, it was understood that the meeting took place on Feb 23, prior to another meeting at the Sheraton Hotel later that night, attended by Barisan Nasional MPs and defecting former Pakatan MPs aligned with Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
It was also understood that leaders present at the meeting were particularly emotional and disgruntled over a meeting on the night of Feb 21, where Pakatan leaders had pressured Dr Mahathir to fix a transition date for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to take over as premier and Bersatu threatened to pull out from the coalition.
This appeared to corroborate with an excerpt in the beginning of the audio recording, where the man who sounded like Muhyiddin was heard saying: "We want to find a reason ... and that move could be a trigger".
What is now labelled the "Sheraton Move" triggered a week-long political impasse that saw the collapse of the Pakatan government, which was replaced by the Perikatan Nasional coalition (Barisan, PAS, Gabungan Parti Sarawak) led by Muhyiddin as prime minister.
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Dr Mahathir recently said that he was forced to resign as premier and Bersatu chairman as the party had decided to quit Pakatan and cooperate with Barisan.
His remarks were disputed by Bersatu information chief Radzi Jidin, who said that Dr Mahathir had agreed with Bersatu's decision to leave Pakatan but decided to change his stand at the last minute.
However, Dr Mahathir’s son and Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, who said his father had never agreed with Bersatu's decision to leave Pakatan.
Bersatu is presently split between the factions of Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin, where the former intends to return to Pakatan while the latter wants to remain in the Perikatan pact.
The May 18 Parliament sitting, the first held since Pakatan lost federal power, is highly anticipated after a motion of no confidence against Muhyiddin was submitted.
The open fire between Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin appeared to have intensified in recent days, after the nonagenarian's faction had openly attacked Muhyiddin, resulting in Mukhriz's second exit as Kedah mentri besar.