SHAH ALAM • Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad made a surprise appearance at the national convention of the Democratic Action Party yesterday, marking another big step for a leader who once demonised the Chinese-dominated party when he headed Umno.
Tun Dr Mahathir, 91, who now chairs a new opposition party, stood on stage with other DAP and opposition leaders, local media reported.
He was flanked by two veteran DAP leaders, Mr Lim Kit Siang and Mr Chen Man Hin, who had over the decades fought against him and his Malay nationalist party Umno. Dr Mahathir headed Umno for 22 years until 2003.
His appearance at the DAP's 50th annual meeting was unexpected as DAP had earlier announced that his three-month-old Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia was not invited as it had not joined the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH).
The chiefs of the two other PH parties, Dr Wan Azizah Ismail from Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Mr Mohamed Sabu of Parti Amanah Negara, were present.
Dr Mahathir quit Umno in February and Pribumi Bersatu was registered in early September.
Asked at a news conference later about his maiden attendance, Dr Mahathir said: "It seems that DAP's Malaysian-ness is even stronger than that of BN and Umno.
"I see amongst DAP members that some have a darker skin, some are a bit brown, and not all are yellow and so on." He added, according to Malaysiakini news website: "It shows that DAP is not a Chinese party.
"It is a multiracial party, and even the non-Chinese members can hold high positions, such as (the late former chairman) Karpal Singh, who once held high office, can speak the national language, and so on. So it is an experience for me."