Sheraton move happened because Azmin wanted to be PM, Dr M alleges

PETALING JAYA: The Sheraton Move happened because Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali was eyeing the prime minister's post, alleges Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The former prime minister said Perikatan Nasional was not his idea but a plot by Azmin and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to ensure PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim did not become the prime minister.

He also said he attended the Malay Dignity Congress with Umno and PAS in 2019, as he did not want Umno to abuse the platform to continue their racism against the non-Malays.

"I was informed of Azmin's allegations that I was the one who planned the formation of Perikatan.

"I have said time and again that this is not true, as Perikatan is made up of Umno.

"If I had planned Perikatan, why would I have refused it when it happened and if I accepted, then I would still be Prime Minister as acknowledged by Azmin himself.

"If there is anyone who zealously planned the formation of the Perikatan govermment and the exit from Pakatan Harapan, it would definitely be Azmin and Muhyiddin, who got the most benefits (from the move).

"Do not forget that when all this took place, Azmin's position in PKR and Pakatan was in trouble. Anwar and his supporters were planning and working to oust Azmin and this began in the PKR elections," Dr Mahathir said Monday (Nov 30).

He was responding to an exclusive interview in The Star on Nov 29, during which Azmin said that the initial plan to form a Perikatan government was mooted by Dr Mahathir.

However, Azmin said that the abrupt resignation of Dr Mahathir on Feb 24, upset the plan and after failing to get a majority to reappoint him (Dr Mahathir) as the prime minister, Muhyiddin was appointed to the post on March 1.

Dr Mahathir also said Anwar had openly supported PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli who was running against Azmin for the deputy president's post in the then PKR election.

"When that plan failed, the sex video connected to Azmin emerged. This further pressured Azmin and when a few of Anwar's supporters were seen as part of the video's distribution, Azmin's position in PKR and his relationship with Anwar became untenable.

"Even though I was against the Sheraton Move, I understand why Azmin acted in that way.

"The most important thing for him was to stop Anwar from becoming the prime minister.

"If Pakatan had continued ruling, Anwar would have the opportunity to be the next prime minister.

"At the same time, Azmin, too, was aspiring to be prime minister. This is why he joined hands with Muhyiddin and it is clear today, that Azmin has been positioned as the de facto prime minister," Dr Mahathir alleged.

He further alleged that he believed that Azmin had planned Perikatan and the Sheraton Move for a long time, as "it would not have been easy to convince nine PKR MPs to agree to the Sheraton Move".

"Azmin knew then that if Bersatu was the only one to withdraw from Pakatan, it would not have been enough to overthrow Pakatan.

"However, when Azmin joined in, naturally Pakatan lost the majority," said Dr Mahathir.

He also said that Muhyiddin and Bersatu secretary-general Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin had tried to convince him that Anwar and DAP were trying to oust him and that "I needed to join hands with Malay parties as my defence".

"At that time, Umno, especially former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak was instigating Malay groups to hate Pakatan by saying it was controlled by DAP.

"Besides the Rome Statute and ICERD issues connected to the Malay Rulers, they instigated hate and lies on the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim (during a riot at a Hindu temple), the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) issue, Tabung Haji and anything connected to Malays and Muslims.

"Malays started becoming aggressive," Dr Mahathir claimed.

He then alleged that some used the opportunity as part of their efforts to escape the law.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that despite such happenings, all the same issues have now been kept under cover since Perikatan took over.

"I used the Malay Dignity Congress then to remind the Malays of the need to work hard and change their attitudes to remain competitive.

"I stood against any cooperation with Umno and wanted to stay with Pakatan then," said Dr Mahathir.

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