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Pakatan Harapan cannot accept new component parties: Mahathir

Pakatan Harapan cannot accept new component parties: Mahathir

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaking at a press conference in Putrajaya on Jul 8, 2019.(Photo: Bernama)

PUTRAJAYA: The Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition cannot accept new component parties as such a move will cause problems when choosing candidates for future general elections, party chairman and Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday (Jul 8).

Members of other parties are free to join any of the four parties in the PH government, Dr Mahathir said, referring to coalition member parties Bersatu, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Democratic Action Party and Amanah.

"Everybody wants to be a candidate. We don't have too many constituencies, so if they want to come into the existing parties, it's okay," he said at a press conference after chairing the PH Presidential Council meeting in Putrajaya.

Additionally, he said that the four parties have "no problem" maintaining inter-party relations, although there might be problems in respective parties.

Dr Mahathir also clarified comments he made last week inviting Malay politicians - including those from the opposition United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) - to join Bersatu.

On Friday, he said that the potential for Malay parties to win elections would decline as more parties are formed.

“If we are split, we become weak. United we stand, divided we fall," he said. 

"(But) we find that there are people forming new parties ... how to win (the election)?"

READ: Commentary: Malay political unity in Malaysia is but a myth

The comments were not made out of racial sentiment, but from wanting Malays to be united under the existing parties instead of forming new parties, he said.

"Actually I explain that the Malays do not know how to play politics, they are happy merely to become the president. 

"When they are happy, they form a party, soon there will be more parties so eventually the Malays will have no power at all. They are all small parties," he said.

Dr Mahathir said that the four existing Malay parties in the country - UMNO, Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), Bersatu and Amanah - were "enough".

"If you want to join UMNO, you join lah. You want to join PAS, you can join but there is no need to form any more new party, there are many already," he said.

READ: Mahathir’s ‘Game of Thrones’ grand plan is almost complete, a commentary

READ: Has Malaysia become more divided under Pakatan Harapan? A commentary

When asked about UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi rejecting his Friday invitation, he said: "Of course the president rejected. Even if the (UMNO) president wants to join, we will not allow it."

He joked about rumours that he would be attacked by PH leaders at the council meeting today, saying: "My colleagues did not find me guilty and did not cane me just now."

Dr Mahathir noted that the Malaysia Cabinet contains members of all PH component parties, with the exception of those from Parti Warisan Sabah.

"So far, these five parties could make decisions in the Cabinet, we don't throw bottles at each other, nor hit other people, this only happens in other countries. In Malaysia, we are very polite. Generally, the Cabinet is able to function and that is a plus."

READ: Malaysia goes in search of a more inclusive growth formula, a commentary

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim was asked about the possibility that he would lead the continuation of government policies after taking over from Dr Mahathir as prime minister, 

He responded that Dr Mahathir was acting "based on PH's policy", referring to himself as a "PH member".

This prompted Dr Mahathir to quip: "PH member must follow the leader. If he does not follow, we will wallop him."

READ: Domestic politics drive Malaysia’s abrupt global court U-turn, a commentary

READ: Mahathir holds all the keys to Malaysia’s political succession, a commentary

Dr Mahathir also said that it was agreed upon in the meeting that a committee be formed to study how the government would fulfil the unimplemented pledges in the manifesto set out by the coalition.

"We have actually implemented many of our pledges but we do not know how to promote or inform the people on our successes not only according to the manifesto but also those not pledged in the manifesto,” he said.

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