Mahathir should return from his Mediterranean tour on July 3 to tell-all and   clear up the teeming  confusion, contradictions  and doubts created by his sudden resignation, “retraction” and now “non-retraction”

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya,  Thursday): The statement by the UMNO Secretary-General and Information Minister, Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob, in Ipoh today that Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s wish to give up all his party and political posts after October 2003 was  his own decision and not a compromise reached with the UMNO Management Committee has compounded the teeming confusion,  contradictions and doubts  swirling around the events stemming from Mahathir’s sudden resignation announcement at the UMNO General Assembly last Saturday. 

Until now, the nation had been told that after Mahathir’s sudden resignation announcement, which traumatized  the UMNO General Assembly, Mahathir was persuaded to “retract” his resignation as announced by the Deputy UMNO President, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi one hour later, and that at the hour-long meeting between the UMNO Management Committee and Mahathir at Sri Perdana the next morning before the  latter’s  departure for the Mediterranean, a “compromise” was reached which took into account Mahathir’s desire to resign and the people’s desire for his continued services – resulting in the 16-month transition plan announced after the UMNO Supreme Council meeting on Tuesday.  

This version of events was confirmed  or strengthened by the statements and remarks by the UMNO Vice President, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the UMNO Wanita leader, Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz and the UMNO Information Chief, Tan Sri Megat Junid Megat Ayub before Tuesday.  

Khalil’s latest version, that the 16-month transition plan for Mahathir to finally relinquish all his party and government posts after the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Kuala Lumpur in October 2003 had always been Mahathir’s original plan, would mean that there was no “retraction” of his resignation announcement by Mahathir as Abdullah had claimed before  the close of the UMNO General Assembly.  

Khalil  said “perhaps Dr Mahathir wanted to announce the date during his winding up speech at the 56th Umno General Assembly but circumstances prevented him from doing so, but of this he was not sure”. (Bernama).

If the 16-month transition plan for Mahathir to fully resign as UMNO President, Barisan Nasional Chairman and Prime Minister had always been part of his “smooth and orderly transition plan” when he rose to wind up the UMNO General Assembly debate, why didn’t Abdullah announce it to the UMNO Assembly and country – as he would  have learnt about it during the hour-long break with Mahathir  even if he had not known about  it  before the  dramatic announcement was made and which could not be completed because of the eruption of  emotional outbursts at the UMNO Assembly.  

If the 16-month transition plan had always been Mahathir’s intention, which has now been accepted by UMNO and Barisan Nasional Supreme Councils, then what was all the emotional outbursts which wracked the country for two  to three days all about?  This would mean that there had been no “retraction” to close the UMNO General Assembly, and the announcement of the 16-month transition plan was really a “non-retraction”!  

Did all the major players in the “resignation”, “retraction” and “non-retraction” drama act properly and responsibly?

Mahathir should return from his Mediterranean tour on July 3 to tell-all and   clear up the teeming  confusion, contradictions  and doubts created by his sudden resignation, “retraction” and now “non-retraction” drama.  

If the whole idea of the 16-month transition plan is to shore up Abdullah’s political and governmental grip as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia, then there should be room for debate as to whether it is the best transition plan possible or whether there are other options and why they were not considered or adopted, such as:  Mahathir resigning as Prime Minister with instant effect but remaining as UMNO President and Barisan Nasional Chairman (whether retaining Finance Ministry portfolio or otherwise) or alternatively, Mahathir remaining as Prime Minister during this 16-month period to be able to preside over the Non-Aligned Conference in February and the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) Summit in Kuala Lumpur on Oct 24 and 25, 2003, but otherwise going on leave as Prime Minister with Abdullah taking over as Acting Prime Minister for the entire transition period. 


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman