The ongoing game of thrones in Malaysia has had another development. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has formed a group of six MPs who have backed Shafie Apdal to be the new PM of the country. Apdal is the Chief Minister of Sabah province and heads the Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan).
His name was previously also put forward by Mahathir who had suggested that his own son Mukhriz Mahathir and leader of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Anwar Ibrahim serve as deputy PMs.
However, this proposal seemed to have been binned by Ibrahim and his associates. Pakatan Harapan (PH), a coalition of parties that was in power under the leadership of Mahathir till the latter's resignation earlier this year, had issued a statement backing Anwar to be the new PM.
Apdal, the kingmaker or king himself?
However, for PH to achieve a comeback into office, they need the support of Warisan. Their statement also mentioned reaching out to Apdal and trying to get him on board. But the old fox Mahathir seems to be acting just to prevent such a scenario. By backing Apdal for Prime Ministership, he is trying to thwart the attempts of Ibrahim and co.
The statement issued by the group of six MPs states:
"For our part, Shafie's nomination as prime minister candidate is a positive step that needs to be taken. Not only because we believe in his ability to obtain majority support, but it is also a step towards improving relations between the (Malaysian) peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak."
Five of the six MPs in their grouping are former members of Bersatu, one of the main parties in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition that is currently in power, led by PM Muhiyiddin Yasin. This includes Mahathir and his son also. But all five had their membership of the party terminated due to their refusal to sit in the treasury benches.
On June 25, a meeting between leaders from the Democratic Action Party (DAP), Warisan, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), along with Mahathir had taken place. This meeting was mentioned in the statement by this bloc of six MPs.
"My (Mahathir's) friends from Bersatu and I agreed and supported the suggestion because we wanted to solve the impasse in finding a suitable candidate who could get support to return the people's mandate from the current government."
However, the joint statement by the leaders of the three biggest parties in PH had overtaken the maneuvers of Mahathir to get back in power on his own terms. Now, the nonagenarian former PM has made another clever move. Whether he manages to entice Shafie Apdal to his side, only time will tell.