KOTA KINABALU (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Saturday (April 6) launched his political party in Sabah state, with its ranks swelled by former Umno lawmakers and members.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) , the party he founded after leaving Umno, has eight former Sabah Umno assemblymen and one independent in its ranks.
This made PPBM the second largest party in the Sabah government.
Speaking at the launching, PPBM chairman Tun Mahathir promised to work with the Parti Warisan Sabah-led state coalition government led by Mohd Shafie Apdal.
PPBM is one of the four parties that make up the Pakatan Harapan alliance that rules Malaysia.
Its ally Parti Warisan governs Sabah state.
There have been tensions between PPBM and Parti Warisan after PPBM reneged on an earlier promise not to expand into Sabah.
Datuk Seri Shafie, Sabah's Chief Minister, was noticeably absent from the event on Saturday.
Dr Mahathir said his party has no intention of grabbing power in the East Malaysian state, and that it will support and strengthen the existing state government.
"We need strong, united parties, as well as good cooperation between all parties in the country to make Malaysia a nation that is admired by other countries," he said at the launching ceremony.
Dr Mahathir was responding to talk that PPBM might bring in other Sabah parties and use lawmaker defections to topple the Parti Warisan-led state government.
The state government comprises Parti Warisan with 31 lawmakers in the 60-member assembly, six from Democratic Action Party (DAP), two from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and four from United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko).
The DAP and PKR are also members of PH.
Added to this will be the nine assemblymen from PPBM.
The opposition bench has Parti Bersatu Sabah with five seats, Sabah STAR with three and one from Umno.