KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's ruling party Umno sought to dismantle "misplaced nostalgia" of Tun Mahathir Mohamad's 22 years in power on Wednesday (Dec 6), claiming the opposition coalition the former premier now leads only offers false hope, and would endanger the Malay Muslim majority if it governed Malaysia.
Former Umno president Dr Mahathir left the party in 2016 to form Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), which is part of the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan.
In their policy speeches at the Umno general assembly on Wednesday, leaders of the party's Youth, Women and Puteri (young women) wings criticised Pakatan Harapan for making unrealistic promises, undermining Malay interests and hypocrisy in addressing corruption.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin warned that the 92-year-old Dr Mahathir's PPBM would chip at support for the ruling party.
"I cannot accept... the myth that in his time everything was perfect but now things are terrible," he said in his policy speech. "The misplaced nostalgia we've been feeding ourselves is as if we dated Miss Universe."
Puteri chief Mas Ermieyati Samsudin called PPBM "unstructured, messy and divided" following the resignation of several leaders and members, and pointed out how it had yet to conduct an annual general meeting despite being established last year.
"If something as basic as this can be an obstacle, how can they lead Pakatan Harapan?" she said.
Mr Khairy reminded youth delegates how during his leadership from 1981 to 2003, Dr Mahathir, facilitated by Anwar Ibrahim - the jailed opposition leader and then Finance Minister - signed off on power production and highway deals that enriched "a small group of rich businessmen".
"We still have to bear these lopsided agreements that we're still trying to solve until today," the Youth and Sports Minister said.
Mr Khairy alleged tens of billions of ringgit were spent to bail out failed companies including Konsortium Perkapalan Berhad owned by Dr Mahathir's son Mirzan, or were lost due to scandals such as the central bank foreign exchange losses and overpayment for the Port Klang Free Zone.
Datuk Ermieyati also took a swipe at Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali, who "tried so hard to be a champion" against graft. Datuk Seri Azmin is deputy president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), an opposition party within Pakatan Harapan.
"What's the story on his nephew now?" she asked, referring to Mr Azmin's nephew's arrest on Nov 29 for allegedly mining sand illegally in the state.
Mr Khairy also listed other corruption allegations linked to opposition politicians, including Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's discounted bungalow purchase, the huge mansion owned by an opposition youth leader in Selangor, and exorbitant consultancy fees allegedly paid for a project in Penang.
The Rembau MP asked, "How did they intend to save RM20 billion a year when they are unable to prevent leakages at state level?"
He also branded as unrealistic the opposition claims that unpopular highway tolls, corruption and the six per cent goods and services tax can be eradicated.
"Pakatan Harapan Palsu (false hope alliance)!" chanted youth delegates, mocking the opposition pact's name.
Women's chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil claimed that the Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) - the second largest bloc in Parliament after Umno - was the real leader of the opposition.
"Are the people willing to hand over the country that we have built up for so long to chauvinist leaders?" she said, referring to the oft-repeated Umno claim that DAP will dismantle the country's pro-Malay and Islamic policies.