Dr Mahathir Mohamad says he is ready to work with Perikatan Nasional chairman Muhyiddin Yassin if an agreement can be reached on mutual goals, in the first hint of a possible reconciliation some three years after their previous collaboration in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with MalaysiaNow, the former prime minister said a main goal should be efforts to champion the Malay cause, in addition to rejecting those involved in corruption or criminal misconduct.
He said the Malays were currently split according to political party, which made them weak and unable to rectify the situation.
"We want to work together, but the end goals must be set out," he said in Putrajaya.
"We have split into many parties, and we have lost power. When we lose power, we cannot correct the circumstances which are detrimental to the Malays.
"This is why we need to unite."
Mahathir, who served as prime minister twice for a total of 24 years, formed Bersatu with Muhyiddin in 2016.
Muhyiddin had then been sacked from Umno after openly criticising the 1MDB issue.
Mahathir was appointed as chairman of Bersatu, which joined hands with PH to topple more than six decades of Barisan Nasional rule at the 14th general election in 2018.
Two years later, he was sacked from Bersatu after the change of government in the wake of the Sheraton Move, which saw the collapse of the PH administration, and Muhyiddin was made prime minister in his stead.
Mahathir said it would be difficult to work with current prime minister Anwar Ibrahim as they possessed different struggles.
The former Langkawi MP also said that Anwar did not appear serious about fighting for the rights of the Malays.
"Even when it comes to religion, it seems as if his views are not accepted by the Malays," he said.
"This is why I cannot work with him. I am ready to work with people who understand the problems faced by the Malays."
Mahathir also said that the Malays were no longer behind Umno as they had lost confidence in the party's struggle for their cause.
He said Umno's poor performance at last year's general election where the once dominant party won just 26 federal seats throughout the country was proof that it was no longer the party of choice for the Malays.
"This is why we need to unite," he reiterated.
"But who is in favour of unity? Not those who are involved in corruption or who have been sentenced to prison and so on.
"The Malay voters are thinking about the problems they face. They want someone who cares about their plight and who can do something to fix their issues."