Dr M Says No To Being PM But Wants To Head Council That Has Emergency Govt Powers

The 96-year-old said that he has no interest in becoming prime minister for a third time.

Cover image via New Straits Times

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Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has served as the 4th and 7th Prime Minister of Malaysia, says he no longer covets any Cabinet post.

But the 96-year-old still wants power to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

According to the Pejuang chairman, he seeks to head his National Operations Council (MAGERAN) — an emergency body that was established to restore law and order after the 13 May incident in 1969.

In an interview with Bernama TV's Ruang Bicara last night, 19 August, the Langkawi member of Parliament (MP) said he was not interested in the premiership but only wanted "power" through the MAGERAN.

Malay Mail reported him saying that he is "not interested in the Cabinet".

"I just want to have (the) power to address the COVID-19 problem," Mahathir said when asked if he will join the 'Pakatan Harapan (PH) Plus' coalition if it formed the government.

Mahathir insisted that all he wants is to head the MAGERAN to deal with the pandemic.

"However, whatever we decide, the government has to accept them. Give us the power. Only that," he explained when he was asked about the kind of power he is seeking.

The reason being is that he is worried about the state of the country as many were dying from COVID-19 while suicides were also on the rise

"We are worried… people are suffering, many are sick, many have died, and many have [died by] suicide. It's not important to be the prime minister, what's important is to handle the problems we are facing, which is the COVID-19 pandemic," New Straits Times reported Mahathir as saying.

The veteran politician, however, did not provide a specific timeframe for when the MAGERAN — if established again — would be dissolved as COVID-19 was an evolving pandemic.

In such a scenario, he wants the council he proposed to operate "until we are all safe" while promising it to be apolitical as it would come directly under the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

According to Mahathir, he proposed the idea of MAGERAN to the government before the number of cases crossed the four-digit mark

"There were only about 2,000 cases at that time, so it was easier to handle. We had a lot of ideas, but the (government) didn't want to allow me, they wanted to do it themselves," he lamented.

"From then, the number of cases rose to 6,000, then 9,000, 14,000, now 22,000. This is the government's doing. I don't know if I can do better than the government, but I believe if we consulted the right people, we would have gotten ideas (on) how to tackle COVID-19," the 96-year-old added.

He said that while his party has some solutions which could address the issues, these solutions cannot come to light unless the party has an avenue to voice its proposals.

Currently, there's a race for the prime minister's post: