PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) - The decision by the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) to distance itself from the opposition will only dilute Malay votes and hand victory to the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition, said ex-Premier Mahathir Mohamad.
"Whether or not PAS will cooperate with Umno, PAS' participation in the general election still reduces the support towards (opposition alliance) Pakatan Harapan and PAS itself," said Dr Mahathir, who is now one of the main opposition leaders.
"Pakatan and PAS will lose and Barisan will win. This is actually PAS' goal.
"It is not for race or religion. It only aims to weaken the Malays," he said in his latest blog post.
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Dr Mahathir, who is Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman, said history had shown that PAS performed poorly in the elections whenever it went alone but did better when it had strong allies.
He cited several examples since 1959 when PAS fared poorly in the country's elections after it went without cooperating from other opposition parties.
However, PAS did significantly better when it worked with the Chinese-oriented Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in 1999 to form Barisan Alternatif, winning 27 parliamentary seats.
"In 2004, when DAP pulled out from Barisan Alternatif, PAS only won seven seats," said Dr Mahathir, adding that PAS did better when Pakatan Rakyat was formed in 2008 with the inclusion of DAP.
The Islamist party was not included in Pakatan Harapan, which was formed by PKR and DAP and its breakaway party, Parti Amanah Negara, later that same year.
Newcomers Pribumi suggested that PAS be included in seat negotiations for the next general election to avoid multiple-cornered fights.
However, PAS said that it would never work with DAP and Amanah, but maintained a political cooperation with PKR.
It eventually cut ties with PKR last week, claiming that the party had failed to support its Islamic agenda.