KUALA LUMPUR • Former Malaysian deputy prime minister Musa Hitam said the opposition needs to come together fast as the general election, due in 2018, will be called "very soon".
The polls would be called before Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's new party can get a public foothold, he said at the launching of his book Frankly Speaking, as quoted by the Malaysiakini news site.
Tun Musa, 82, was deputy prime minister under Dr Mahathir between 1981 and 1986.
"I want to tell you that I think BN (Barisan Nasional) will call for elections very soon. If it is true, the biggest challenge for those who oppose the government will be to get together and become a cohesive force," he told a news conference after launching the book.
Another former deputy prime minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, on Tuesday formally applied to register for a new party to be chaired by Dr Mahathir called Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia.
Mr Musa said the opposition not only needs to unite fast but also needs to agree on seat allocation. "They must be unanimous on the allocation of seats. Most of the time in the past, it never worked," he said.
He agreed with concerns that Malaysia is "moving downhill", saying the government needs to handle the financial scandals and shootings in the street, Malaysiakini reported.
Mr Musa said: "I think the country is moving downhill. The speed is slow, but it could develop into a fast slide."
He said some people saw getting Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down as one way of solving the current dilemma Malaysia is in.
"I am not saying it. Maybe it is, but you have to go through the process," he said.
The government should allow people to express their views publicly, he added. Asked if he would be attending the upcoming Bersih 5.0 street rally, he said: "I won't give you the privilege of a headline."