PETALING JAYA - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is no longer chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, according to a letter from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) seen by Malaysiakini news site on Tuesday (May 19).
The ROS, which decides on issues in registered societies, including political parties, effectively handed control of the party to its president, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Dr Mahathir, the MP for Langkawi consituency, remains a member of Bersatu.
Dr Mahathir founded Bersatu in 2016 with Tan Sri Muhyiddin and other political outcasts from Umno at the height of the 1MDB financial scandal that tainted then Umno president Najib Razak.
The ROS letter dated May 5 seen by Malaysiakini said Dr Mahathir's resignation as Bersatu chairman comes into effect immediately, and the position would be held by party president Mr Muhyiddin until the next Bersatu election.
The Free Malaysia Today news site confirmed the authenticity of the letter with ROS' communications unit.
According to the letter, Mr Muhyiddin would assume the role of Bersatu's acting chairman as stated in Clause 16.9 of the party's constitution.
"If a chairman resigns or was terminated, then the president has to hold the position until the next party polls to choose a new chairman according to Clause 13.3 and it has powers according to Clause 16.2," according to the contents of the letter cited by the news site.
"Therefore, based on documents submitted which is the resignation of chairman, the ROS verifies that the resignation of Dr Mahathir Mohamad as chairman is legitimate and Muhyiddin is also the legitimate acting chairman, which takes effect immediately in line with Bersatu's constitution," the letter read.
Dr Mahathir resigned as party chairman and Malaysian prime minister on Feb 24, triggering a week of political chaos as then-ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH) collapsed.
Mr Muhyiddin emerged as a prime ministerial candidate after his faction in Bersatu left with 11 MPs from Datuk Seri Azmin Ali's faction of Parti Keadilan Rakyat.
The two factions joined up with Umno, Parti Islam SeMalaysia, Gabungan Parti Sarawak and several other small parties to form the current government, under the banner Perikatan Nasional (national alliance).
Mr Muhyiddin was sworn in as the eighth Malaysian prime minister on March 1 and he unveiled his Cabinet a week later.
Dr Mahathir's faction in Bersatu - a smaller group than PM Muhyiddin's faction - has now allied itself with PH.
Dr Mahathir was also promoting himself as the existing chairman of Bersatu, while his son Mukhriz Mahathir is challenging Mr Muhyiddin for the presidency of the party in upcoming internal polls.