On the late afternoon of Feb 23, 2020, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Haji Abdul Hadi Awang, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Abang Haji Openg, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Azmin Ali had an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The purpose of the audience was to inform the Agong that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had enough support from Members of Parliament from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (BERSATU), Barisan Nasional (BN), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Parti Warisan Sabah (WARISAN) and Datuk Seri Azmin’s faction in Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) to stay on as the prime minister.
More than 130 statutory declarations (SDs) had been signed by the MPs to prove their support for Tun Mahathir. Before leaving for the palace, all the above leaders gathered at Tun Mahathir’s residence where the existence of these SDs was made known to him.
Ideally, it was Tun Mahathir who should have had the audience with the Agong. He might have announced after the audience that he already had enough support to lead a new government called Perikatan Nasional (PN). He would continue serving as the prime minister without having to resign.
But for reasons only known to him, he did not do it.
Why did he back off from the plan? One can only guess. After all, Tun Mahathir is political maestro numero uno. Nobody could read his mind. He might have done it for a good reason.
Before leaving the palace on that evening, Datuk Seri Azmin suggested that the party leaders who just had the audience with the Agong meet with the 130-odd MPs who have gathered in Kuala Lumpur. A dinner event was quickly organised at the Sheraton Hotel in Petaling Jaya. This afterthought dinner was later dubbed as the “Sheraton Move”.
Personally, I think, to link the event at the Sheraton Hotel on the night of Feb 23, 2020, to the formation of the PN government is an understatement. The event, as I said, was just an afterthought.
The formation of the PN government on March 1, 2020, was precipitated by months or even years of another far more delicate move. Could it be Mahathir’s Move? Only those who were privy to it would know.
Yes, that is the nature of a political move. It should not be known to many. Sometimes, even those who were in the thick of the move may find out later on that they were just pawns in the game.
Politics sometimes hurts.