Mahathir explains why his new party is race-based

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KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is Malay-based because the majority of Malaysians in the rural and semi-urban areas are comfortable with Umno-type racism.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who initiated Bersatu, adds this is necessary if the new party is to compete with Umno.

In his latest blog post, the former president of Umno writes: “The sophisticated and highly educated urban people may believe that racial politics is not in keeping with the times.

“But on the ground it is different. For the rural people who largely are poor, race is not only important but they believe (it) is essential for their well-being. Umno’s popularity is because it is a racial party.

“If the new party is to compete with Umno, it must give the people in the rural constituencies and the unsophisticated urban constituencies the kind of comfort associated with Umno’s kind of racism.”

Still, he hastens to add, the new party is not confined to Malays but is open to all bumiputeras and it is ready to accept non-bumiputeras as associate members.

The former prime minister gives reasons why a new party similar to Umno had to be formed. In essence, it is because they were unable to bring about changes – removing Najib Razak as president via a vote of no confidence and resuscitating the party — by working within and on Umno.

He says they found that Najib had a total grip on Umno and that he was able to expel any member who criticised him. Najib had surrounded himself with “tame” people who seemed “obligated” to him despite his “wrongdoings” and it became clear that there was no way to remove him from within.

Forming a new party, therefore, became “absolutely necessary, he explains.

“Only a new party can revive the country’s glory of the past. The new party will take cognisance of the changes in the thinking of all Malaysians. We have made progress. Our people are better educated, and are better off in many ways. Their perceptions of things and their aspirations have changed.”

Mahathir goes on to list some of the ideals and goals the new party will work to achieve.

These include:

  • Striving to improve the performance of the Government and ensuring a better life for the people. Bersatu will try to regain the respect and honour of Malaysia – which he says has been destroyed by Najib — in the eyes of the people and the world;
  • Restoring democracy and the rule of law “which have been denied and abused by Najib”;
  • Ensuring the separation of powers between the legislative, the executive and the judiciary;
  • Separating the legal service represented by the Attorney-General from the judiciary. “The AG may not pass judgement over reports made to the police except when the reports are vexations and irrelevant. Even then the AG must give his reasons to the public and not just say there is no case to answer. Certainly he must not put the reports under the Official Secrets Act.”
  • Investigating any suspicion of corruption and making the report public;
  • Allowing foreign observers to oversee elections and to have full access to the operations of the election, both Government and Opposition;
  • Making all transactions by Government transparent; and
  • Ensuring that borrowings by the Government do not exceed amounts fixed by Parliament.