Tonight’s Pakatan Harapan pre-presidential council meeting is expected to witness an “ultimatum” laid out by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on the heels of detractors calling for him to step down as prime minister.
The 94-year-old leader is also expected to “seal the deal” that might see him remain in office, as sources in the ruling coalition have revealed to the New Straits Times that Dr Mahathir has secured a two-thirds majority support in the Dewan Rakyat.
Having such considerable support might mean having the power to jolt naysayers with an ultimatum; that is, the discretion to form a unity government should they disagree with him.
One source said the pre-council meeting today would be an avenue for the top six PH leaders to set the tone of the evening, while the second session would be more of an “announcement meeting”.
The six are PH chairman Dr Mahathir, PH president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu.
They are scheduled to meet at 8.30pm at Dr Mahathir’s Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya, while about 20 other PH leaders from PKR, Bersatu, DAP, and Amanah are expected to attend the main presidential council meeting after that.
“A pre-council (meeting) is normal, but this one won’t be. We can expect either something juicy or nasty to happen.
“Dr Mahathir is going to seal the deal by telling the other five that he is to remain as prime minister.
“If they disagree, we can expect Dr Mahathir to announce something big,” the source said.
It is understood that Dr Wan Azizah does not usually attend the pre-council meeting, but would do so this time.
Recently, the Malaysiakini portal quoted a source as saying that Dr Mahathir “wanted” Dr Wan Azizah to be around this time for the meeting as she was considered an “important factor”.
As the PH president and deputy prime minister, Dr Wan Azizah carries a lot of weight in the ruling pact and whatever decision she makes on the succession plan will invite controversy, a source said.
“If Dr Wan Azizah chooses Anwar, people will say it’s nepotism. If she supports Dr Mahathir, people will say she has family issues.
“Either way, it doesn’t look good for Dr Wan Azizah,” the source said.
Another source claimed that Anwar and his allies in the PH presidential council are planning to remind Dr Mahathir of the succession plan during the pre-council meeting, in line with the consensus reached by PH leaders before the 14th General Election.
The source said a proposal will be presented at the pre-council meeting to Dr Mahathir, which will cover, among others, Dr Mahathir’s role when he passes the baton to Anwar.
“They will try to use the pre-council meeting to confirm Dr Mahathir’s resignation. However, if Dr Mahathir declines the proposal, it will then turn into a nasty pre-council meeting.
“Remember, Dr Mahathir already has the two-thirds majority support. The question now is, who will support Anwar?” the source said.
If the claim that Dr Mahathir has secured a two-thirds majority support is true, another source said no one in PH can force the prime minister to resign.
“In fact, I think he (Dr Mahathir) will be happy if anyone from PH tries to propose a vote of no confidence against him in Parliament.
“It’s like getting a free ride, or as the perumpamaan (idiom) goes, umpama orang mengantuk disorongkan bantal (getting help at the right time).
“Dr Mahathir has the numbers. He has the support needed. He has promises yet to be fulfilled and he plans on delivering them.
“This is not a man you want to give an ultimatum to. Remember, he was once an activist. You won’t see him waving the white flag without putting up a good fight.”
A PH leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, hinted at the possibility of “another big thing” during the first week of this year’s Dewan Rakyat session, which will run from March 9 to April 16.
Asked if it involved a cabinet reshuffle or a vote of no confidence, the leader said: “It may be both. It will be huge, nothing you’ve seen before.”
With all the controversies relating to the power transition reaching a boiling point, members of the press are expected to ask hard questions at the media conference after the meeting today.
If their questions remain unanswered, the first week of the Dewan Rakyat sitting might become a platform for Dr Mahathir to reaffirm his stay as prime minister.