KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Registrar of Societies (RoS) has rejected an application by former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) to be registered as a political party.
"They gave the reason that we did not fulfil some criteria and our application was rejected," Tun Dr Mahathir told a news conference on Thursday (Jan 7), adding that the party would lodge an appeal to the Home Affairs Minister on Friday.
"Our secretary-general frequently met up with RoS (during the process) and they informed us verbally that everything was okay and would be approved, but that they would refer to the (Home Affairs) Minister," he said.
"This means that the administrative process has become political. Why do you need to refer to the minister, it is not required under the law."
The RoS on Thursday also rejected a separate application to register the new Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) party for youth, led by former Cabinet minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.
Muda co-founder Luqman Long said the registrar had sent an e-mail on Wednesday about the rejection of the party's application.
Dr Mahathir and four other MPs formed Pejuang, or Fighters of the Nation Party, following their sacking from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in May last year after they sat with opposition MPs in a parliamentary session that month.
Bersatu is now led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Pejuang submitted its application to the RoS to become a registered political party at the RoS headquarters in Putrajaya on Aug 19.
Last October, the RoS brushed aside a complaint by Pejuang that there had been no word on the party's application.
In December, Pejuang filed a judicial review application to compel the RoS to decide on its registration status, but the case is now academic as the RoS has made a decision.
Opposition leader and Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Anwar Ibrahim said yesterday that the move to reject the registration of Pejuang and Muda was "completely unacceptable".
"These rights are enshrined in our Federal Constitution. We must demand that the Registrar state to all of us why these two parties were denied registration.
"The office of the RoS is not a political tool for the government to use and manipulate to suit its agenda," he said in a statement.
If the two parties are still not registered by the next election, the politicians behind them can run as independents, or on the tickets of other parties, said political analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi from Universiti Malaya.
A Pejuang politician ran in a by-election in Perak state last year as an independent.
Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir was also asked on what advice he would give to PM Muhyiddin, amid infighting within the shaky ruling Perikatan Nasional coalition.
Umno had recently threatened to stop working with Tan Sri Muhyiddin's Bersatu party at the next general election.
Dr Mahathir said: "The best advice is that you don't look strong enough, just resign."