PETALING JAYA: I will not join any National Recovery Plan (NRP) of the Perikatan Nasional government’s making, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
However, if the government sets up an apolitical council that has been proposed by Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang), the former prime minister is willing to quit his party to join it.
In a virtual press conference on Thursday (July 15), Dr Mahathir, who is Pejuang's pro-tem chairman, debunked reports that said he was ready to join the NRP and quit politics.
He also said he did not have any candidates for prime minister and denied backing International Trade and Industries Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and his own son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, as future PM candidates.
At the same media conference, Dr Mahathir also claimed that the current NRP that the government had set up is actually based on a proposal by Pejuang and that Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz had come to see him as the Perikatan Nasional government was out of ideas.
“Even though the government has a similar body under the NRP, that is up to the government.
“What we see is that the government has failed to control the pandemic, from the Sabah elections and now cases have reached up to 13,000 a day.
“The government has failed. We have ways that can be used to reduce the cases in this pandemic. We see in some countries they have reduced new cases," he added, saying that the pandemic has to be handled using expertise and lessons learned from other countries.
“Tengku Zafrul asked to meet to ask for suggestions on ways to fight this pandemic.
“I did not prioritise politics but the people’s fate and whatever I know, I have informed Tengku Zafrul.
“I don't care who the government is - I only want to see that the body we propose is completely focused on fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Dr Mahathir.
He explained that Pejuang's proposed NRC differs from the government's National Recovery Plan as it would be apolitical and created under the orders of the King.
“Our opinion is that if there is a body which is empowered but without political party involvement, we can take actions to reduce the number of cases.
“It is not easy to reduce as we know there is the highly-infectious Delta variant.
“The actions taken should be more forceful than what the government has done.
“We will also need funds to run the body,” said Dr Mahathir, not explaining who should provide these funds.
On the issue of the Parliament meeting to be held on July 26, the Langkawi MP said Speaker Datuk Seri Azhar Azizan Harun should have checked with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong first before replying to his motions and not make his own decisions.