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.
“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, ” Dr Mahathir said yesterday.
“Do not forget that when all this took place, Azmin’s position in PKR and Pakatan was in trouble. Anwar and his supporters were working to oust Azmin, beginning in the PKR election, ” he added.
He was responding to an exclusive interview in Sunday Star in which Azmin said the initial plan to form a Perikatan government was mooted by Dr Mahathir.
However, Azmin said 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.
Dr Mahathir also said Anwar had openly supported PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli when he ran against Azmin for the deputy president’s post in the PKR election (in 2018).
“Though I was against the Sheraton Move, I understand why Azmin acted that way. The most important thing for him was to stop Anwar from becoming the prime minister.
“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 claimed that he believed 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”.
He said 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”.