PUTRAJAYA: Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he could not grasp the idea of Umno and PAS working together after the signing of a historic charter yesterday by the country’s two largest parties to formalise their political cooperation.
The prime minister also seemed to downplay Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s reassurance that the cooperation between the two parties will be nationalistic in nature and not racial or religious.
“It’s always about race and religion,” Mahathir said.
“But what you do is important. If you are there to stir up racial things, then I think it is wrong. But I cannot understand how Umno can work together with PAS,” he said, referring again to the “kafir” label once used against Umno by PAS. “How can they work with PAS?” Mahathir said.
Yesterday the presidents of PAS and Umno signed a national unity charter – Piagam Muafakat Nasional – which seeks to uphold the interest of the Malays, Islam as the official religion, and Malay as the national language. Political observers say the collaboration between PAS and Umno will pose a challenge to Pakatan Harapan, which has sought to win support from the Malay-Muslim majority.
Mahathir spoke to reporters after attending the Putrajaya Boat Race at Putrajaya Lake Club.
The boat race was organised after the prime minister expressed interest in introducing traditional boat races in Malaysia, similar to those around the world.
He said the boat race had been talked about ever since Putrajaya was being developed. However, there was no good response to the plan until his “dictator-self” forced it to happen, he quipped.
He said Malaysia wanted to emulate the world-renowned Oxford-Cambridge boat race in England and the Harvard-Yale race in the US. He hoped the Putrajaya race would be an annual event and promoted to attract more tourists to visit Malaysia.
Present at the event were Mahathir’s wife, Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad and Putrajaya Corporation president Aminuddin Hussin.