Difficult journey for Mahathir’s new party

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that he would set up a new political party. This shows that the nonagenarian leader is still full of energy, but whether the new party can do anything big remains to be seen.

After the “Sheraton coup”, pro-Mahathir PPBM leaders were subsequently sacked by the party and they have since lost a political platform to continue with their struggle.

They later brought the case to the court to challenge the party’s decision to terminate their membership but their appeal was struck out by the court days ago, meaning Mahathir will no longer be able to go back to his old party and needs to set up a new one to advance his agenda.

This new party to be chaired by Mahathir and with his son Mukhriz as president is a Malay party. We have yet to see whether the party can gain much ground in an already overcrowded Malay political battlefield.

Basically at this moment the Malay votes are being divided among Umno, PAS, Keadilan, PPBM and Amanah. It will be an uphill task for Mahathir’s new party to fight its way for survival among so many more established parties.

It is still premature now to deduce how successful Mahathir’s new party will get, but the fact that he continues to focus much of his energy to racial politics even in 2020 has made him a target of public censure.

Race-based politics will never take the country far because this is a multiracial nation that must decisively embrace progressive pluralistic politics having struggled for so long in the quagmire of race politics.

Setting up a new party fighting only for the interest of one specific group in the year 2020 shows that indeed the mentality of some politicians is still stuck in the bygone century.

Ironically, Mahathir used to outline the vision of a Bangsa Malaysia for 2020!

Of course, he has his own political consideration to take into, and PPBM is very much his target now.

More and more PPBM leaders and members have quit their party following Mahathir’s announcement, including supreme council members A Kadir Jasin. Tariq Ismail and Ulya Aqamah, along with Jeram assemblyman Mohd Shaid Rosli and Klang divisional chief Syed Abdillah Syed Abd Aziz with over a thousand members from the division. The exodus also took place in Simpang Renggam and Langkawi divisions.

This points to the fact that the former prime minister still commands some influence within PPBM, but this will never be enough to rock the foundation of the party.

Before long Mahathir’s new party will take on its first ever challenge: the Slim by-election. Umno will field a candidate to defend the seat, and Pakatan Harapan has resolved to give the seat to Mahathir’s faction.

The by-election will be litmus test for Mahathir’s clout in the Malay society. The new party’s future will be gloomy if it is badly defeated in Slim River.

Mahathir used to create numerous political miracles having been prime minister twice. Unfortunately, given today’s political climate, it will not be easy for him to extend his political life with a newly registered party, even though it is not totally impassible.

Sin Chew Daily

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