Opposition alliance accepts Mahathir's party as 4th member

Malaysia's parliamentary opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail chairing the meeting of Pakatan Harapan's presidential council yesterday. The alliance accepted Dr Mahathir's party into the group to strengthen its chances of winning more seats at the
Malaysia's parliamentary opposition leader Wan Azizah Wan Ismail chairing the meeting of Pakatan Harapan's presidential council yesterday. The alliance accepted Dr Mahathir's party into the group to strengthen its chances of winning more seats at the next elections. It also decided to register itself with the Registrar of Society so it can contest the next elections as a single entity.ST PHOTO: FACEBOOK

Group to contest next polls with common logo and manifesto

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH) yesterday accepted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) as its fourth member, in a bid to strengthen the opposition's chances of winning more seats at the next elections.

PH said in a Facebook posting that its presidential council meeting had also decided to formally register the alliance with the Registrar of Society.

The twin moves should clear the path for the four-member group to contest the general election as a single entity offering one logo, one manifesto and one candidate.

Members of PH's predecessor, the tripartite Pakatan Rakyat, contested the 2013 polls using their own party logos, and in some seats fought against one another, causing confusion among rural voters.

"(We) agreed to have immediate discussions among all four parties to come up with a collective manifesto and create a new logo," PH said in a statement after the meeting.

Former premier Mahathir has been pushing for the opposition to ensure one-on-one electoral contests against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, and to use a common logo and one manifesto to present to voters.

BN consists of 13 political parties, but contests in the polls using one logo - white weighing scales on a dark-blue background.

BN has 132 seats in the 222-ward federal Parliament. PAS has 14 seats, the other opposition parties 75, and there is one independent Member of Parliament.

This means that the combined opposition parties must win at least 112 seats to remove BN from power.

Malaysia's general election is not due until August next year but there is speculation that it could be held this year.

The latest moves by PH will see it likely to leave out a major opposition party, Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS). The Islamic party has refused to work with two members of PH, the Democratic Action Party and PAS offshoot Parti Amanah Negara. The other member of PH is Parti Keadilan Rakyat led by opposition chief Anwar Ibrahim who is behind bars.

PPBM has held several rounds of negotiations with PAS, to get the Islamic party to avoid putting up its candidates in seats that PH wants to contest in.

PPBM's chairman, Dr Mahathir, formed the party seven months ago to topple Datuk Seri Najib, following the financial scandal involving state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad that was backed by the Prime Minister.

PPBM's president is former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and its deputy president is Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, a former Kedah menteri besar and Dr Mahathir's son.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'Opposition alliance accepts Mahathir's party as 4th member'. Print Edition | Subscribe