What will Mahathir do?

A hot topic of discussion, debate and contention right now is the chairmanship of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad disputing the letter from the Registrar of Societies (RoS) that he is no longer chairman, with the post instead falling to current Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as acting chairman.

Taking this back to the beginning, Mahathir had resigned from his post on Feb 24, on the cusp of the change in government from Pakatan Harapan (PH) to Perikatan Nasional (PN). The letter had been received by the Bersatu Supreme Council, which had unanimously rejected his resignation.

This then led to Feb 27, where Mahathir retook his post as chairman of Bersatu. He has continued to serve in this post until a recent letter from RoS surfaced. The letter, dated May 5, noted that RoS had received the letter of resignation from Mahathir which was effective immediately, and confirmed the resignation.

It further noted that under Clause 16.9 of the party constitution: “If the chairman resigns or is removed, the president has to act in that post until elections are held to elect the new chairman according to Clause 13.3 and the chairman has powers under Clause 16.2.”

Radzi Jidin, the information chief of Bersatu, confirmed this in a statement dated May 9 confirming the clause in effect. This, in turn, places Muhyiddin well within his rights to act as chairman of Bersatu, considering there have been no elections or Supreme Council meetings under RoS orders due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Further, the Bersatu Supreme Council on May 19 reiterated their support for Muhyiddin and also to leave PH for ruling coalition PN. The candidate chosen to be chairman, according to the party’s constitution, will need to get the nod of the Supreme Council.

But wait – according to this article by Malay Mail, Bersatu’s election committee chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar had, on April 1, informed Mahathir that he had won the chairmanship uncontested, following Mahathir being the only nominated candidate in the running. This references a letter from Mahathir’s lawyer, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla.

This, however, clashes with an earlier report on March 16, where Syed Hamid was quoted as saying he cannot announce an uncontested victory until the date of the elections itself.

It should again be noted that RoS has ordered for there to be no meetings of any sort until further notice due to the dangers of Covid-19. This, in turn, means no elections or Supreme Council meetings where Syed Hamid could have announced Mahathir’s victory.

Furthermore, in a statement dated May 21, Supreme Council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan noted that any party members that sit with the opposition will see the membership of said persons to be revoked, not by any disciplinary action, but by their own action, referring to the actions of Mahathir’s faction that had opposed the move for Bersatu to join PN.

He called for the party to immediately check the membership status of said group without “fear or favour” in keeping with the spirit of “rule of law.”

“Do not allow the existence of a divine caste that can refute party discipline in broad daylight as it will be a cancer that will destroy the party. Do not be so arrogant until you are not willing to sit with your own party. The party will be destroyed if the leader only takes their own view into account, ignoring the impact of their actions on the party in the perception of the people,” he said.

So the question is this: how can Mahathir be the chairman of a party he may not even be a member of, especially when no elections or Supreme Council meetings could have taken place to confirm his post? 

What happens next? Your move, Mahathir. – May 21, 2020

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