Mahathir bin Mohamad, the country’s longest serving Prime Minister, has vowed to launch a new party in coalition to challenge the Prime Minister, Najib Razak. “We who oppose Najib cannot achieve victory unless we work together as a coalition,” said Mahathir.
An accusation emerged last year that Najib had received USS$1 billion into his bank account in March 2013 before general election. It is said that Najib had a state fund scandal with the 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad, a strategic development company, owned by the Government of Malaysia).
Najib and 1MDB denied any wrongdoing. Najib said that US$681 million was a gift from a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family, but most of it has been returned. In January, Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Najib of any corruption or criminal offenses.
In February, Mahathir, who is 92-year-old at this moment, quit the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) saying he took the action because he saw that the organisation has turned into “supporting corruption” under Najib’s leadership.
He said the members of “Save Malaysia” movement came to him and said that they found none of the existing parties “attractive” and so the need to form the new party arose. “So we provided a vessel for them to join, so that indirectly they are an entity in this grouping,” he added, although the time frame of the forming of this party have not yet been published.
Mahathir did not answered when he was asked if the three former UMNO leader, Muhyiddin Yassin, Mukhriz Mahathir and Shafie Apdal, would join him in the new party. He was just saying that he was “very open” to the idea.
The decision have not yet to be made about the representation of the new party, whether it would represent Malay-Muslim majority or eschew racial lines.
Muhyiddin, the former deputy president, and Mahathir’s son, former Kedah chief minister Mukhriz, was being sacked from the party by Najib just last month. The two of them had been tough critics of Najib and they have been calling for his resignation following the allegations and mismanagement at 1MDB.
And in the protest against his suspension pending an investigation into his conduct in questioning Najib’s handling of 1MDB, Shafie, UMNO’s former vice president, quit the party.
On Thursday, the Barisan strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said that Barisan Jaya is ready to face “anyone, anytime, anywhere” for the future of the country, even the new opposition coalition announced by Dr Mahathir.
Abdul said that the coalition will only strengthen the chances for Barisan to win big in the next general election and the opposition’s position will get weaker.
Abdul said Barisan had gone through worse and more formidable challenges in the past and managed to overcome each and every one of them. “We (Barisan) will rigorously fight for our principals and our struggle. We will defend our track record,” he said.