KUALA LUMPUR: Local critics of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, including former Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Malaysia's longest serving prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, submitted papers to register a new party on Tuesday (Aug 9).
The new party aims to go up against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).
Muhyiddin told reporters he hoped the application to register the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) as a political party would be accepted by the Registrar of Societies. He is expected to be president of the party, while Dr Mahathir will be the chairman.
The new party's main goals will include fighting corruption and championing the rights of everyone in multi-ethnic Malaysia.
"Bersatu will aim to unite all Malaysians in one goal - which includes saving Malaysia," said Muhyiddin.
Membership will be open to all ethnic Malays and indigenous people. Other Malaysians would be able to apply for associate membership, which Muhyiddin said would confer them all the same rights, except the right to vote or run for positions in the party. Associate members can only be appointed to positions.
"We want to be inclusive. As much as it's not similar, we will give them due recognition in terms of ideas and what not, which I think they do have. So as much as we have 'ahli biasa' - which is normal members - we also have associate members", said Muhyiddin.
These differing membership types have already drawn criticism from the public - that Bersatu is yet another "race-based" party in a country where there are many. But founding members hint this is all part of their strategy to go up against UMNO - a Malay-only party.
"This party will mostly be contesting in rural areas, which has never been penetrated even by traditional political parties," said Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, one of the founding members of Bersatu.
"Personally, however, as a young person I believe we have to find ways to progress forward to be as inclusive as possible in the current context we're in."
It is unclear how long it will take for the new political entity's registration to be approved, but Muhyddin is hoping that the government will allow it.
He, Dr Mahathir and other founding members of the new party were previously from Najib's all-Malay party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).
The two have publicly criticised Najib for his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal surrounding state investment firm 1MDB. Muhyiddin was dismissed from his position as deputy president, while Dr Mahathir quit UMNO over Najib's leadership.