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Don't get trapped in party loyalty, Mahathir tells Malays

He warns against being overly loyal towards parties, to the point where there is no distinction between good and bad.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad today cautioned the Malays against being overly loyal towards political parties to the point where they cannot distinguish between good and bad. 

The former prime minister said the democratic system with its numerous political parties, while effective in other countries, appeared less so in Malaysia due to such attitudes of loyalty towards a single political group. 

"This party system is effective in other countries, but the bond among their supporters is not as strong as it is in Malaysia.

"We don't care what we are fighting for as long as it's our party," he said at a forum in Seri Kembangan, Selangor.

The forum, titled Penjenamaan Naratif Politik Melayu, was organised by a group of Malay scholars to discuss the issues faced by the community today. 

Mahathir, the Pejuang chairman, said the Malays were currently divided according to political parties, unlike the situation before Malaysia achieved its independence, when they united to oppose the British rule. 

"After independence, the focus was not on developing the nation to bring it on par with others, but party interests," he said. 

"Parties were formed to get things for themselves. And the loyalty to parties is very strong." 

Mahathir joined hands with Muhyiddin Yassin to form Bersatu during the administrative era of Najib Razak. 

He and a number of other former Bersatu leaders then formed Pejuang after the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. 

In general, the support of the Malays is split between parties such as Umno, PAS and Bersatu. 

A large chunk of support is held by Umno and PAS, the two largest Malay parties in the country. 

PH components PKR and Amanah wield less influence among the Malays and rely on the non-Malay vote with the help of DAP. 

Mahathir said this when commenting that the Malay community appeared to still support parties embroiled in issues of corruption and abuse of power, such as Umno.  

This was seen at the recent Johor election where Umno, through Barisan Nasional, secured a landslide victory while Pejuang failed to win even a single seat. 

In an earlier question-and-answer session, Mahathir said money politics was one of the reasons why some parties could still rally support. 

"When we ask them to vote for us, they ask what's in it for them," he said. 

Mahathir's Pejuang has said that it will contest the 15th general election, although it is expected to go solo after rejecting the "big tent" proposal by PH.