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No need for more Malay parties: Mahathir

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Malaysia's PM says existing four Malay-based parties sufficient to look after Malay interests

PUTRAJAYA : Pakatan Harapan is not calling for other Malay-based parties to join forces, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir, who is also Pakatan chairman, clarified his earlier call for Malays to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).

He said the existing four Malay-based parties can do the job of looking after the interests of the Malays without forming new parties.

"You want to join Umno, you join lah. You want to join PAS, you can join," he quipped.

"There's no need to have till 20 (Malay) parties," he said, adding: "Malays must learn that politics is a serious matter. If there are any issues, go to these four parties. Don't go open new parties".

Asked to explain his call for Umno members to join Bersatu, Dr Mahathir said the party cannot join Pakatan, but its members can join parties in the ruling coalition.

The Prime Minister added Malays do not need more parties representing them, to avoid disunity.

He said it was better if they are united to ensure they are not left behind.

"This was what I explained to the other parties in Pakatan and they expected this.

"And no, they did not sebat (spank) me (for making that statement)," he told reporters after chairing the Pakatan presidential council meeting yesterday.

But he did admit that he received flak from colleagues on the PH presidential council after his remarks last week were seen as encouraging Malays, particularly those from Umno, to only join PPBM.

" colleagues in other parties find my words wrong and I just got a sounding," said Dr Mahathir at the press conference after the meeting.

"I explained that Malays are not good with politics but keen to become presidents. So they set up parties," he added.

"Eventually, you have many Malay parties… It's enough with just four parties."

PH comprises Malay Muslim parties PPBM and Parti Amanah Negara, and multi-racial Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and the Democratic Action Party (DAP).

The main Malay opposition parties are former ruling party Umno, which remains the largest political party by membership with over three million members, and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which has 800,000 members.

At a PPBM event last Friday in Johor, Dr Mahathir said the Malays should be united under one party, drawing consternation from his coalition partners, as it was felt that he was seeking to increase numbers to dominate the PH coalition.

His Friday comments did not go down well with Umno and PAS either.

Umno and Barisan Nasional will never cooperate with PPBM if DAP continues to be part of the government, said its president Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

"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."

According to PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, PAS is sticking to its formal cooperation with Umno, as he described 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 said. - THE STAR, THE STRAITS TIMES