JOHOR BARU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has urged members of rival party Umno to join his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
The PPBM chairman said that even if a party is strong, if it deviates from its purpose it would still be rejected by the people.
"Johor used to be an Umno stronghold, but after Umno lost its direction, we have been able to make inroads into the state," he said during Hari Raya celebrations of Johor PPBM in Taman Johor Jaya on Friday (July 5).
Tun Dr Mahathir said Umno used to be the only Malay-based party but things were different now as the community is split six ways between as many political parties.
He stressed that it was important for the Malays to unite. With the community making up 60 per cent of the population, the six political parties would only be able to amass 10 per cent of support each and would need assistance from other parties.
"Those days, I was rooting for the Malays to join Umno but now I am calling them to join Bersatu," he said.
Dr Mahathir was president of Umno during his first stint as prime minister from 1981 to 2003. He later left Umno and formed PPBM in 2016, which then joined the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition that defeated the Umno-led Barisan Nasional in the general election in May last year.
Dr Mahathir said there are already moves to set up more Malay-based parties, which would increase their number to 10.
He said this would further split up and weaken the Malays.
When asked if inviting former Umno members to join PPBM would cause friction among member parties within PH, Dr Mahathir shrugged it off and said this was not a concern as they are free to look for new members.
The other member parties of PH are Parti Keadilan Rakyat, the Democratic Action Party and Parti Amanah Negara.