PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic) has refuted claims that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong proposed Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail to replace him as interim prime minister during last year’s “Sheraton Move” political crisis.
Breaking his silence on the expose by former Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas in the latter’s just-released memoir, Dr Mahathir said upon accepting his resignation as prime minister, the King immediately asked him to be interim prime minister.
“He never proposed any other name, certainly not Wan Azizah, the (then) Deputy Prime Minister.
I never offered myself but it would be rude for me not to accept his proposal.
“At that time, the Pakatan Harapan government had already fallen, as (Tan Sri) Muhyiddin (Yassin) had announced Bersatu had left Pakatan at noon.
“Wan Azizah as DPM could not take my place, as Pakatan was no longer the government. Nor could any member of Pakatan take over from me, ” Dr Mahathir wrote in a lengthy response yesterday in his chedet blog.
Thomas, in his memoir My Story: Justice in the Wilderness, among others, claimed that Dr Mahathir had put forward his own name for the post of interim prime minister after the fall of Pakatan.
He wrote that the potential appointment of Dr Wan Azizah would have been the correct constitutional decision.
Hitting back at his former AG, Dr Mahathir said: “Tommy knew nothing about my resignation. According to Tommy, I told him that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong had wanted to appoint Wan Azizah as interim prime minister.
“This is nonsense. After reluctantly accepting my resignation, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong suggested
I become interim prime minister.
“Wan Azizah could not be acting prime minister or interim prime minister because the Pakatan government had already collapsed.”
Dr Mahathir cited Article 43 of the Federal Constitution which states that the Cabinet could not be sustained as soon as Pakatan lost its majority following the “Sheraton Move” defections.
“I never submitted the resignation of the Cabinet. But when the Pakatan government fell, there was no way the Cabinet could remain. It had to go down with the government.
“I cannot understand how a lawyer cannot understand this was not a change of prime minister, ” he added.
He said that despite the backlash he received over Thomas’ appointment as the AG, he went ahead with it as he was of the opinion that it would be better if the post went to a non-Malay.
“I was generally satisfied with Tommy’s work. I got on quite well with him. He would see me for all major issues. I trusted him and defended him when the Malays condemned him, ” Dr Mahathir said, adding that he also recommended Thomas for the Tan Sri title.