Ex-DPM backs Mahathir's plan for new party

Former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad (left) and ousted Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin.
Former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad (left) and ousted Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin. PHOTOS: BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

PETALING JAYA • Former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin has come out supporting a plan by former premier Mahathir Mohamad to set up a new political party which will join forces with the opposition.

Speculation had been rife over the past week that Tun Dr Mahathir, 91, Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, was planning to start a party with three other former leaders of Umno, which scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak now leads.

The former leaders are Tan Sri Muhyiddin, former Umno vice-president Shafie Apdal and former Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Muhyiddin said he had held discussions with Dr Mahathir, Datuk Seri Shafie and Datuk Seri Mukhriz about the need to establish a new political platform.

"I will have continuous discussion with the relevant parties before deciding on the next course of action," he said.

He added that he recognises that establishing a new political platform will only work if opposition parties return to the negotiating table to form an alliance to face the upcoming general election, which is due by 2018.

"This alliance will be very important to gain public confidence that political parties other than Barisan Nasional (BN) are able to lead Malaysia and are better suited to defend the people's interests," he said, and expressed his willingness to hold discussions with all parties to find the best way to replace the current government.

Last Thursday, Dr Mahathir announced plans for a new party that would join an opposition alliance in a bid to oust the ruling BN coalition led by Datuk Seri Najib.

Dr Mahathir is on a mission to knock Mr Najib off his top leadership seat, openly slamming him over the mismanagement of state firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad and funds totalling RM2.6 billion (S$884 million) deposited into the prime minister's accounts which were later said to be donations.

Dr Mahathir's stance saw him aligning himself with his political foes from the opposition camp. One of them, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, yesterday said her party will consider whether to cooperate with Dr Mahathir's new party.

"Not yet, right... He (Dr Mahathir) has not set up, but it is indeed his right to set up a (new) party. I hear he also does not want to be president. Let's wait for Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to come to a decision," she was quoted as saying by the Bernama news agency.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 17, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-DPM backs Mahathir's plan for new party'. Print Edition | Subscribe