AFTER much anticipation Tun Dr. Mahathir’s new political party finally submitted a formal application at the Registrar of Societies (ROS). To be known as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), the new party will be led by former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin while former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad will be Bersatu’s chairman and his son Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir will be the vice-president.
The creation of this new party is another attempt by Tun Dr. Mahathir to remove the prime minister. His efforts have thus far proven futile including calls for a vote of no-confidence in parliament, the Save Malaysia movement and push for a referendum. Angry and frustrated over his inability to exert influence in Malaysia’s political scene subsequently led to his decision to re-enter the political fray. Hence the birth of Bersatu.
There have been much rumblings surrounding Bersatu that mainly centered on it being another Malay-based party. The party has moved to ‘correct’ this notion by stating that it will only admit bumiputera members, but non-bumiputera can be associate members and be appointed to positions. Even popular youth activist and Bersatu’s pro-tem committee member Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman has spoken up in a bid to assure civil society leaders that the party is not purely race-based despite the bumiputera-only membership criteria.
Ironically he had previously espoused the ‘Bangsa Malaysia’ concept and a reform agenda. It begs the question, ‘Is Syed Saddiq doing a 180-degree turn?’ Surely he is aware that Tun Dr. Mahathir was infamous as Malaysia’s strongman and yet he stands side by-side with the man. Even some members of the People’s Justice Party (PKR) appear unconvinced that Bersatu will push through the opposition’s reform agenda.
Bersatu’s application will be reviewed in detail and it would take at least 30 days before it is approved. The public and media will undoubtedly look forward to hear the ROS decision once it completes the process of evaluating the application of the new party. In the meantime, Tun Dr. Mahathir and his comrades will likely continue to discuss and negotiate with the other opposition parties on the terms of their cooperation.
Unease in the coalition is very apparent and full of suspicion with each component party using the other for their own self gain. Despite sharing the same goal to oust the prime minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir has a number of enemies within the opposition bloc. It remains to be seen if Bersatu can unite the fractured and weakened opposition to challenge the ruling Barisan Nasional in time for the next general election. Only time will tell.
Casius Junut is an independent analyst and Malaysian Access reader. Article written is strictly his personal view. Malaysian Access does not necessarily endorse the opinions given by any third party content provider.