KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman today said that Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders had a foreshadowing of the “Sheraton Move” that resulted in the collapse of their government, but never expected it would be accomplished.
The ousted Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Youth chief described the manoeuvre as a backward step for the country as a democracy.
“There was definitely a hint but it was a surprise that it could be pulled off.
“It sent a wrong signal to all Malaysians when it comes to strengthening Malaysia’s democracy,” he told business radio channel BFM 89.9’s Breakfast Grille show this morning.
“It’s just unfortunate and tragic. I think it is time for us to really change Malaysian democracy to ensure something like ‘Langkah Sheraton’ will never happen again,” he added.
The “Sheraton Move” got its name from the Sheraton hotel in Petaling Jaya, Selangor where several prominent factions within PH had a clandestine meeting with leaders of the then Opposition Barisan Nasional (BN) in February that subsequently led to the formation of a new government under Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in March.
On what went wrong for PH, Syed Saddiq said the coalition collapsed from long-standing personal disputes between leaders that gave an advantage to political opponents.
“It was the discontent, the disagreement and the continuous infighting among old politicians which never ended, which has been there for the past 20 to 30 years.
“Because of this deep mistrust, it enabled for the ‘Sheraton Move’ to happen. We didn’t deal with coalition politics well… we didn’t deal with interpersonal relationships among party leaders well.
“We allowed for our enemies to exploit that disagreement and discontent among one another,” he told BFM.
Syed Saddiq has since broken away with his mentor and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with his youth-led party Muda to offer Malaysia a new political direction.
On the radio show, the Muar MP said his loyalty can only be pledged to the Malaysian public that voted him into office.
“It’s not Pakatan Harapan or Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The people gave us the mandate and we must defend the mandate no matter how unpopular or how difficult it gets,” he said.
Syed Saddiq said he did not support Bersatu’s decision to pull out from PH no matter how unpopular they stood to become among the Malays.
“We should not have used that as an excuse to backstab our partners to then leave Harapan and to align ourselves with the enemies who we seek to challenge and confront,” he said.