Allegations that DAP is eyeing the deputy prime minister’s post should the opposition win the next general election has dominated political discourse the past two weeks, after an alleged slip-up by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
There have been multiple twists and turns following this, with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak seizing on the fumble to hammer Mahathir and the DAP, while the former prime minister tried to do damage control.
Malaysiakini wades through the noise, and examines what has been said to separate fact from fiction.
Mahathir claimed Najib had said that should the opposition win the next general election, the prime minister would be a DAP member.
To counter this, the nonagenarian said DAP did not want to be prime minister, but was eyeing the deputy post.
This statement was reported by Antara Pos on Jan 19 and it gained mainstream attention after it was picked up by Berita Harian.
Najib’s reaction: On Jan 20, Najib declared that Mahathir had ‘U-turned‘ from becoming an enemy of DAP, to offering DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang the deputy premiership.
Mahathir’s defence: According to DAP’s Liew Chin Tong, Mahathir told Kit Siang that the media had twisted his words, and that he had only heard about DAP making such a request.
Fact check: Najib did not say that someone from DAP would become prime minister if the opposition wins in the election.
However, he did say that DAP would dominate the opposition, a stance he has held since the Umno general assembly last December.
And, contrary to Najib’s assertions, Mahathir did not say that he had offered for Kit Siang to become deputy prime minister, but he did claim that DAP had expressed an interest in the post.
“DAP has never asked to become prime minister, never, they asked to become the deputy yes, but prime minister they never asked,” Mahathir said during a meeting with Putrajaya residents at the Perdana Leadership Foundation on Jan 18.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng denied that the party has ever discussed about government posts.
PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli similarly said that neither the Pakatan Harapan presidential council nor the Harapan-Bersatu joint task force discussed the matter of who would get which government post.
But, former DAP vice-chairperson Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim has repeatedly claimed that Mahathir had struck a deal for Kit Siang to become deputy prime minister, to secure his son Mukhriz’s place as prime minister.
What happened next?
Later the same day he told Kit Siang that his words were twisted by the press, Mahathir made a blog post, saying he had confused MCA for the DAP.
Mahathir said it was actually the MCA that had asked Najib for the creation of a deputy prime minister’s post to be filled by the party.
Najib’s response: Najib denied that MCA had ever asked him for the deputy prime minister’s post, and asked MCA to deny it too. He said it was a lie.
Fact Check: Former MCA deputy secretary-general Loke Yuen Yow confirmed he had proposed that a Chinese second deputy prime minister’s position be given to his party, back in 2009.
However, Loke said, he made the proposal in his own personal capacity.
The request was made on April 3 that year, the same day Najib became prime minister.
Mahathir had cited a report on this, which was posted on the Information Department’s website, titled “Cadangan Timbalan Perdana Menteri Ke-II Daripada MCA” (Proposal for Deputy Prime Minister II from MCA).
The posting said the source of this was the Information Department.
The posting appears to have been taken down, but was still accessible through Google Cache on Jan 27.
Similarly, Malaysiakini had reported Loke’s statement on the matter on April 3, 2009. Whether Mahathir had truly mistaken DAP for MCA is not known.
As for Najib’s denial, one could argue that deputy prime minister II post is different and less important than the deputy prime minister’s post.
How did this start?
Allegations that DAP is eyeing for the deputy prime minister’s post appears to have originated from a Dec 30, 2016, Utusan Malaysia report quoting former DAP leader Tunku Aziz.
Tunku Aziz’s claim: The former DAP vice-chairperson alleged that on Dec 3 last year, Mahathir and Kit Siang made a secret pact to make Mukhriz prime minister, should the opposition win the next general election.
Tunku Aziz also claimed that under the pact, Kit Siang would become deputy prime minister.
Fact Check: No evidence of the pact has surfaced thus far, while Kit Siang and Mukhriz have both denied its existence.
Kit Siang has threatened legal action against Utusan Malaysia, New Straits Times and any other media outlet that published articles about the alleged pact, which he labelled as “fake news”.
Meanwhile, Mukhriz has demanded that Tunku Aziz furnishes evidence of his claims, and has also threatened to sue the former DAP man.
Tunku Aziz has yet to provide such evidence, but has instead challenged Kit Siang and Mukhriz to sign a statutory declaration that the pact was false.
Conclusion: Both sides have not been truthful in this matter. Mahathir had attempted to bury his apparent slip of the tongue by first blaming the media, and then claiming he had mixed up DAP with MCA.
Najib’s attacks, meanwhile, exaggerated the original slip-up by claiming that Mahathir had offered Kit Siang the deputy prime minister’s post.
The prime minister also appears to have forgotten about the MCA request for a DPM-II post, while Putrajaya has, coincidentally, deleted the Information Department article Mahathir cited.
Further, while Mahathir’s slip-up appears to lend credence to Tunku Aziz’s claim of a secret Mahathir-Kit Siang-Mukhriz pact, it has not been backed up with any solid evidence.