PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday (Aug 4) launched a new Malay movement which aims to take on the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in the coming elections.
The former prime minister of Malaysia said that Gerakan Tanah Air (Movement of the People) is planning to contest in 120 seats in Peninsula Malaysia. These will mainly be Malay majority seats.
“We are not being racial but this is an effort to fight against a party that swindles, that is UMNO,” said Dr Mahathir who is the movement’s chairman.
The four political parties in the movement are the National Indian Muslim Alliance Party (Iman), Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), Parti Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).
It will also include NGOs, academicians and individuals, said Dr Mahathir.
Dr Mahathir, who is also the chairman of Pejuang, said that the movement is confident of winning the seats it would contest.
“We are hoping to get the support of the people, not because they are members of political parties but rather Malays who are concerned about their future,” he said.
He added that the majority of the poor people in Malaysia are Malays.
“This movement aims to solve the problems faced by the Malays. It is not about taking away anything from the non-Malays but rather to help Malays get their share,” he said, adding that wide income gaps between the rich and poor could cause instability in the country.
Dr Mahathir stated that he did not want to set up a new party as it would split the votes further.
The next general elections have to be called by September next year.
During the 2018 general election, Dr Mahathir was part of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition that claimed federal power. The coalition fell apart after 22 months.
Dr Mahathir resigned as the country’s seventh prime minister, his second stint in the country’s top office.
He was also Malaysia’s fourth prime minister from 1981 to 2003, when he headed UMNO.
He quit UMNO in 2016 and founded Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in the same year.
He led PH to a shock victory in the 2018 polls, breaking Barisan Nasional’s 60-year rule since the country’s independence.
However, following a political maneuver known as the “Sheraton Move” in Feb 2020 that saw Bersatu leave PH, the coalition was ousted from the federal government.
Dr Mahathir was later sacked from Bersatu and he set up Pejuang. Currently, Pejuang has four members of parliament in the lower house.
During the Johor state elections in March this year, Pejuang lost the deposits for all 42 seats it contested.