Malaysia's Dr Mahathir announces new 'independent' Malay party

Dr Mahathir said the party, which is yet to be named, will be independent from the other political blocs.
Dr Mahathir said the party, which is yet to be named, will be independent from the other political blocs.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister Mahathir Mohamad will set up another Malay-based political party, and will not align it with either of the two largest blocs in Parliament, he announced on Friday (Aug 7). 

The party, which is yet to be named, will be formed by Tun Dr Mahathir along with four other MPs who are currently independent after being removed from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Dr Mahathir said the party will be "bebas" - or independent - from the other political blocs.

Dr Mahathir, 95, will be the chairman of the new party while his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, is expected to be its president. 

The party will add to the crowded political scene in Malaysia - especially ones serving the Malay electorate. 

Three Malay based parties - Bersatu, Umno, and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) - are currently in the same bloc that forms the governing Perikatan Nasional alliance. 

Another is opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), a Malay-majority, multiracial party led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

PKR with yet another Malay faction, Parti Amanah Negara, is in the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition with Chinese-based Democratic Action Party.

"I know there are already too many Malay political parties, but the other (Malay) parties have deviated from their original struggles," Dr Mahathir said at a press conference. 

Dr Mahathir's decision to set up an independent party signals his increasingly strained relationship with Mr Anwar, who heads the three-party PH opposition bloc.

"We would like to work with Pakatan Harapan, but there are some obstacles there," Dr Mahathir said.

Dr Mahathir's announcement followed Friday's decision by the High Court on the application by Tan Sri Muhyiddin, who is also president of Bersatu, and three others to strike out a suit by Dr Mahathir and four other people.

The High Court accepted Mr Muhyiddin's application to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Dr Mahathir and four others over the revocation of their party membership.

 
 
 
 

Judge Rohani Ismail concluded that Dr Mahathir and the other plaintiffs have no legal standing to sue over what they claimed was the unlawful termination of their Bersatu membership.

On July 23, Dr Mahathir said that if the court decision was not in his favour, he would form a new party.

Dr Mahathir and PM Muhyiddin founded Bersatu in 2016, but they split up following the collapse of the then ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition at the end of February, after Mr Muhyiddin and some 40 other MPs defected to form a new alliance that includes Umno and PAS.

Dr Mahathir, 95, the MP for Langkawi ward, and four other MPs had filed a legal challenge after being automatically relieved of their Bersatu membership for sitting in the Opposition bench during the May 18 parliamentary meeting.