Dr Mahathir: Are Bersatu leaders ok with ‘thieves’ as allies? What about the fight to save Malays from kleptocrats?

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today fired his latest attack against the leaders of the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) party that he had founded, questioning if they were willing to accept alleged “thieves” among political leaders as their partners for the sake of forming the new government under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.

While Dr Mahathir did not directly name those who he was labelling as “thieves”, he alluded to the previous Najib administration under the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition that PPBM had in the past sought to remove from power.

Dr Mahathir suggested that there were PPBM leaders that had forgotten the promise to voters in the 2018 general elections to remove allegedly corrupt leaders.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that PPBM leaders and its members previously held the purported intention of removing a “prime minister” who had allegedly stolen “billions” of government funds and had cooperated with then opposition parties under the Pakatan Harapan coalition for the same purpose, noting that voters had granted victory to the PH parties including PPBM in the 2018 elections as they trusted in the “sincerity” of the political leaders’ promises.

Following the 2018 election where the BN coalition was defeated, Dr Mahathir who headed the PH coalition and PPBM as the PPBM chairman became the seventh prime minister.

In the February 2020 political crisis, the PH government collapsed after Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s faction parted ways with PKR and after PPBM pulled out from the PH coalition. Dr Mahathir quit as prime minister during the crisis, and has previously asserted that he was against PPBM’s decision to withdraw from PH and form a new government under the new Perikatan Nasional coalition.

Without mincing his words against PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who succeeded him to become Malaysia’s eighth prime minister, Dr Mahathir claimed that the party president had allegedly plotted with the defeated political parties in the 2018 elections to have the PPBM party pull out from PH to trigger the PH government’s collapse.

“With the support of thieving leaders, the Bersatu president became prime minister together with defeated parties given the name of Perikatan Nasional,” Dr Mahathir claimed in his blog post today. The Perikatan Nasional coalition is formed of PPBM; BN parties Umno, MCA, MIC; PAS with Gabungan Parti Sarawak as its ally.

“What say the other leaders in Bersatu? Are they willing to accept thieves as leaders? Okaylah ― as long as benefits can be enjoyed,” Dr Mahathir said sarcastically.

“What happened to the pledge in the past to fight and bring down kleptocratic leaders? Oh. That is just a pledge to get the support of voters. Now can just forget it,” he continued to say mockingly, referring to the term kleptocrats or government leaders who make themselves rich by stealing from their fellow citizens.

Dr Mahathir warned however that those who adopt such a viewpoint would risk having their parties destroyed and would also risk losing the trust of the public.

“With this Bersatu will be destroyed!! With that, what will happen to the struggle to save the Malays from kleptocrat leaders? That is Bersatu’s problem. As long as can enjoy then oklah. In the future, people will no longer trust us ― is that alright?” Dr Mahathir said in his blog post in his caution to PPBM’s leaders.

Dr Mahathir’s blog entry also comes just days after the PPBM party claimed that he and four other MPs had ceased to be party members, but Dr Mahathir has disputed the party sacking and challenged its validity while insisting that he is still PPBM chairman.

In his second stint as prime minister until late February 2020, Dr Mahathir had heavily stressed the need to fight corruption and had in January 2019 unveiled the country’s National Anti-Corruption Plan (NACP) 2019-2023, with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) also having then set up a portal with the names of MPs who had declared their assets and the value of their assets.

Following the 2018 elections, multiple Umno leaders including its former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, its current president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi were brought to court to face corruption charges, with many of them undergoing trial.

Umno is now part of the new government via the Perikatan Nasional coalition.