PM pokes fun at Putra, says new party ‘good’ for Malay division

Dr Mahathir Mohamad says people are free to set up as many parties as they want.

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today took a jibe at the formation of Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), founded by Malay rights activist Ibrahim Ali.

In a sarcastic tone, Mahathir said anyone was free to set up as many parties as they want.

“If we set up 100 parties, that is good. The Malay community will be further divided into 100 groups and there is not one big Malay party.

“I encourage the setting up of more Malay-based parties. At this juncture, the 60% Malay majority are only divided into four, which is still okay.

“But now, it is broken up into 100,” he said at a press conference after chairing a PPBM Supreme Council meeting this evening.

He was asked to comment on the new party which Ibrahim, the protem president, said had received approval this month.

Asked whether Maszlee Malik’s position as education minister was discussed at the meeting, Mahathir said he did not see anything wrong with Maszlee.

“I don’t see any issues with Maszlee. He has merely asked for white school shoes to be replaced with black school shoes. Everything else is okay,” he said.

The PPBM chairman agreed that Maszlee should remain, saying that raising racial issues did not mean he was racist.

“In our party many talk about race. The Indian leaders will talk about Indian interests. The Chinese will talk about the interest of Chinese. Similarly with the Ibans and the Kadazans.

“But we are all Malaysians. We cannot question the nationality,” he said.

Mahathir, who is also the Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman, said they needed to make sure they had the support of all the people, especially the Bumiputeras, at a time when Umno and PAS have come together and are using race and religion to gain support.

“It now becomes important because Umno and PAS have come together and are using race and religion to gain support. If we don’t state our stand on race, I think we will lose in the general election,” he said.

Maszlee has come under fire for defending the matriculation programme’s preference for Bumiputera students, saying those calling for the pre-university course to be opened to other races should also address the unfair job market dominated by a particular race.