KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and four other federal lawmakers have been sacked from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) on Thursday (May 28).
In a letter addressed to Dr Mahathir by Bersatu's executive secretary Muhammad Suhaimi Yahya, the former prime minister was informed that he has been sacked according to clauses 10.2.2 and 10.2.3 of the party's constitution.
Mr Muhammad Suhaimi said this was because Dr Mahathir had sat with the opposition bloc during the parliamentary sitting on May 18, and not with the Perikatan Nasional coalition led by Bersatu's president and current Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
Other Members of Parliament (MPs), including Mr Mukhriz Mahathir, Mr Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, Mr Amiruddin Hamzah and Dr Maszlee Malik were also sacked from the party.
Supporters of Dr Mahathir - Bersatu's former chairman - are at odds with those backing Mr Muhyiddin. The split in the party came after Mr Muhyiddin's decision to team up with Barisan Nasional (BN), and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) to form the new ruling government earlier this year.
Following the establishment of the new coalition, Mr Muhyiddin was sworn in as Malaysia’s eighth prime minister.
Dr Mahathir has earlier proposed a motion of no-confidence against Mr Muhyiddin in parliament, which has been accepted by Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusoff.
READ: Don't create another round of political turmoil, says Malaysian king in parliament opening address
Earlier this month, Dr Mahathir said in a video interview that he had resigned as chairman of Bersatu in February because he opposed the party's decision to leave the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition and join up with BN and PAS to form the new government.
"I thought that the decision for Bersatu to leave PH did not have a good basis. I had good support from Pakatan Harapan, During the Presidential Council meeting ... they decided to give me full autonomy to decide when I should resign (to make way for Mr Anwar Ibrahim)," Dr Mahathir said.
"When that decision was made, and I got full support from Pakatan Harapan, I told Muhyiddin that because I had full support, why should we leave PH? If there are other reasons, we should wait before leaving," he added.
"But he (Mr Muhyiddin) believed that we needed to leave PH on the same day. (He said) if we didn't leave, the Malays will be destroyed. They will be destroyed by (the Democratic Action Party) DAP."
Dr Mahathir said that Bersatu should have waited and taken some time to think carefully because it had worked with other parties in PH, including DAP, to topple BN and win Malaysia's historic General Election in 2018.
He also reiterated that he did not want to work with BN and its key party component UMNO (United Malay National Organisation) as the party was involved in corruption.
Dr Mahathir also stressed that although he had resigned as chairman of Bersatu, he later decided to resume the post after "many others came forward to persuade him to come back".
In February, a day after his resignation as Bersatu chairman, party members announced that they rejected his resignation.
SACKED LAWMAKERS REJECT PARTY DECISION
In a joint statement late Thursday night, the five MPs - Dr Mahathir, Mr Mukhriz, Mr Syed Saddiq, Dr Maszlee and Mr Amiruddin - said that they rejected the dismissal as they were acting within laws and regulations set by Bersatu.
"We do not accept these wrongful dismissals as they are clearly against the law and strip away our right to act ... not just for ourselves but for all grassroots members of Bersatu," the statement said.
The five MPs claimed that the move to dismiss them was a political strategy by Mr Muhyiddin.
"Clearly, the president's office is playing politics while the country is facing the COVID-19 issue and the economy is in turmoil. This reflects the president's dictatorship stance," the MPs said.
"We would like to add that the unilateral move by Bersatu's president in sacking us without cause is because he is worried about the upcoming party polls and the fact that his position as prime minister is the most tenuous in Malaysia's history," the statement added.