KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's key opposition parties Umno and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) yesterday declined Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's invitation to other Malay parties to join his Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) - the coalition it leads - will never cooperate with PPBM if the Democratic Action Party (DAP) continues to rule the government, said Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
PPBM is a member party of the ruling Pakatan Harapan coalition, which also comprises Parti Keadilan Rakyat, DAP and Parti Amanah Negara.
PPBM and Amanah are Malay-Muslim parties, while Malay-led PKR and Chinese-dominated DAP represent themselves as multiracial parties.
Datuk Seri Zahid said it is impossible for BN and PPBM to cooperate politically, as long as DAP continues to be part of the administration.
"Umno and Barisan will never accept it, as long as DAP continues to run the government. DAP is carrying the 'Malaysian-Malaysia' agenda, which will never be accepted by Umno and Barisan. This is Umno and Barisan's official stand," he said.
Mr Zahid added that although the former ruling party is always open to current political realities, it will never cooperate with PPBM due to its responsibility to ensure Malay and Muslim unity.
Islamist party PAS also declined Tun Dr Mahathir's invitation to join PPBM.
PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said yesterday that his party is sticking to its formal cooperation with Umno, describing Umno as a core party for Malay-Muslim political parties in the country.
"We invite all political cooperation. But we are consistent with Umno in the concept of unity," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
Datuk Tuan Ibrahim, the MP for Kubang Kerian, said Malay unity can be achieved with the cooperation of Umno and PAS.
Last Friday, Dr Mahathir called for all Malays, especially Umno members, to come together under the umbrella of PPBM for the sake of unity.
Meanwhile, former youth and sports minister and Umno MP Khairy Jamaluddin turned down an invitation by his successor and PPBM youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman to cross over to PPBM, saying he is happy to stay with BN.
"I'm happy where I am. Thank you," Mr Khairy told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
Another Umno MP, former defence minister Hishammuddin Hussein, said any efforts to preserve Malay unity must take into account the country's multiracial composition. "If it (Malay unity) can reduce politicking, Alhamdullilah (praise be to God). But if it will make things worse, who is going to take care of the economy, welfare of the people and the safety of the country?" he asked.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK