PETALING JAYA: Muhyiddin Yassin became prime minister in March last year, with Azmin Ali named as senior minister days later.
However, the idea of a Muhyiddin-Azmin combination was mooted as early as 2016, some four years before the Sheraton Move which saw the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government, according to DAP’s Liew Chin Tong.
In his book titled “Lim Kit Siang: Patriot. Leader. Fighter”, Liew says the idea was put forward by an “important NGO leader”, whose identity he did not disclose.
He said the leader openly told Pakatan Harapan leaders during a meeting, after Bersatu and PH agreed to work together, that then PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was not suited to be the candidate for prime minister.
“Instead, the person proposed for Muhyiddin to be PM and Azmin to be his deputy. The meeting did not end well,” said Liew.
He added that in 2015, the same NGO leader had proposed for Azmin to be named as the opposition’s PM candidate, just two months after de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim was jailed for sodomy.
According to Liew, the idea of a Muhyiddin-Azmin combo continued to be promoted even after PH formally accepted Bersatu as a component party.
“There was a narrative after the Sheraton Move to promote the idea that Muhyiddin was an ‘accidental prime minister’ coming to the rescue when there was a deadlock (between Anwar and Dr Mahathir Mohamad).
“Kit (Lim Kit Siang) and I were the eyewitnesses to history that it wasn’t true.”
He also claimed that, prior to the 2018 elections, Muhyiddin’s supporters in Bersatu were against Mahathir being named as PM candidate while Azmin wanted Anwar to be “taken out of the equation”.
Liew also said the Mahathir-Anwar combo was the only way Anwar would be able to take over as PM because a Muhyiddin-Azmin premiership would leave no space for the PKR leader.
In 2017, PH agreed on the Mahathir-Anwar combo, a move Liew said would effectively keep Azmin waiting for a chance to become PM.
He claimed that while Muhyiddin was “wholeheartedly” supportive of this, it was not the same for Azmin who kept pushing the Muhyiddin-Azmin combo.
“But Muhyiddin was not involved. At least not at that point in time.”
Elaborating on the events after the Sheraton Move, Liew claimed that it was later on that Muhyiddin aligned himself with other players behind the move, including Azmin.
“Plans were hatched, regardless of Mahathir’s inclinations. The coup was launched in the name of saving Mahathir from Anwar’s threat but in effect, it was to put in place the 2016 idea of a Muhyiddin-Azmin leadership.”