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Malaysian opposition leaders urge Mahathir to serve out full term

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Malaysian Prime minister says leaders, including those from PAS and Umno, met him to pledge support

PUTRAJAYA Dr Mahathir Mohamad has confirmed that a group of opposition politicians met him two days ago to pledge their support for him to complete the full term as premier.

However, the Prime Minister downplayed the meeting, saying that many people came to see him all the time and that he had met with many people.

"Have you been spying on me?" he said when asked about the meeting.

"The meeting happened. I meet everyone, not just the Opposition."

Dr Mahathir said those who saw him came from the parties Umno and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and some were from Sarawak.

The Star reported that the opposition representatives met Dr Mahathir to urge him to stay the full term, saying nobody should take over the helm of the country midway through.

The opposition leaders at the meeting were said to include former Umno vice-president and defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, PAS vice-president Dr Samsuri Ahmad Mokhtar, PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan and Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chief whip Fadillah Yusof.

A high-ranking Pakatan Harapan leader, who is a Cabinet minister, was also present after having been called to join the meeting by Dr Mahathir.

Asked to confirm if this minister was Mr Azmin Ali, the Prime Minister replied: "It's a secret meeting. I can't tell you."

A source privy to the three-hour meeting said: "The meeting was held on Tuesday night to tell Dr Mahathir that he has the Opposition's full support until the next general election, and that they do not agree with him handing over the reins midway to (Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim) or anyone else."

Umno, PAS and GPS together have 77 seats in parliament.

"Like it or not, Umno and PAS are still the biggest political parties in the country, although they are the Opposition," the source said.

"The main agenda (for the Tuesday meeting) was for Umno, PAS and GPS to state their support for the Prime Minister to stay on for a whole full term, and that they do not want Anwar to take over, be it after two years or three years - not to change horses mid-stream.

"They also showed Dr Mahathir that they have the numbers of MPs supporting this - at present it is 128 from all blocs.

"More are intent on getting on board and they are now weighing their options," claimed the source.

In addition to PKR and Umno, the rest - Dr Mahathir's own Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, as well as GPS, Parti Warisan Sabah and Parti Amanah Nasional - are almost 100 per cent in support of the Prime Minister serving out his full term.

"DAP MPs have yet to make up their mind," said the source, referring to the Democratic Action Party.

The source also said the team proposed the appointment of a "more capable deputy prime minister or deputy prime ministers who can step in as premier immediately if anything happens". - THE STAR