KUALA LUMPUR: Seven members of parliament who defected from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) have been accepted into Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
According to a report by Malay Mail, Dr Mahathir handed over their membership documents on Tuesday (Feb 12).
The new PPBM members include former domestic trade, consumerism and cooperatives minister Hamzah Zainuddin.
“They left their party a long time ago and have applied to join us,” said Dr Mahathir during a press conference.
“We have reviewed their applications and accepted them, but they will only join as normal members and it does not give them any protection from past wrongdoings,” he added, according to Malay Mail.
The new members have not been offered any posts in PPBM.
PPBM now has 22 seats in parliament. Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the Democratic Action Party have 50 and 42 seats respectively.
UMNO is in turmoil, with senior figures leaving the party.
On Dec 12, more than a dozen Sabah UMNO lawmakers and state assemblymen quit and pledged their support to the Pakatan Harapan government. Two days later, six UMNO lawmakers in the peninsula followed suit.
After days of defying calls by members to resign, UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi handed over his duties to the party’s deputy president Mohamad Hasan on Dec 18.
Mr Mohamad, known as Mat Hasan, was later appointed the acting president of the party.
At that time, some UMNO politicians expressed a desire to join PPBM.
Dr Mahathir said PPBM would only welcome those who were free from any wrongdoing or who were not ardent supporters of the former administration of Najib Razak.
“It is not just freely coming into Bersatu. They have to be scrutinised to see whether they qualify or not," he said.