PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has claimed that opposition bloc Pakatan Harapan (PH) may not be able to attract Malay support if it does not cooperate with him in the next general election.
He cited his involvement with PH in 2018, which he said helped bolster the opposition’s Malay support en route to victory over Barisan Nasional.
“I helped the opposition win (in GE14) because I brought in the Malay support. You know DAP, which could never get more than 18 seats, got 42 seats because of the Malay support I brought in.
“So, if you exclude me, you are going to exclude Malay support. You are going to lose,” he said during an interview with China Press.
PH won 89 seats in GE13 with DAP winning 38 seats. The coalition, with the help of Mahathir-founded PPBM, won a total 113 parliamentary seats in their successful 2018 campaign.
While the increase in Malay support for PH helped put the parties in the coalition in the top seats with substantial Malay population, its inroads into the rural Malay heartland was still limited, with PPBM only winning 13 seats.
Mahathir also said he wanted to cooperate with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim but the latter had rejected all his proposals, although DAP and Amanah have both showed their willingness to work with the former two-time prime minister.
“What have I done to him? I released him (from prison) and I wasn’t due to step down. And yet I stepped down earlier.
“I didn’t stop him, I wanted to work with him, I told him: ‘Okay, if you don’t like me, let me have six months because if you don’t have the Malay support, the opposition cannot win’.”
The PH government collapsed after just 22 months in early 2020 after Mahathir’s resignation as prime minister,PPBM’s withdrawal from the coalition and a series of defections.
Mahathir himself was eventually expelled from PPBM before forming Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).
Mahathir said that in order to become the next prime minister, Anwar must ensure he has the necessary support first.
“But look at the record, how many times has he claimed to secure the support? But he doesn’t have the support,” said Mahathir.
He noted that even when Anwar claimed to have sufficient numbers to form the government in September, the Port Dickson MP had made it clear that he would exclude him.
Talk of a “grand coalition” of opposition parties has gained steam in recent weeks.
Amanah has touted a coalition to unite all opposition forces, while Selangor PKR Youth said it was open to discussing the possibility, but on condition that Mahathir was not part of the arrangement.
Mahathir’s son Mukhriz, who is Pejuang’s pre-tem president, also said on Tuesday that younger political figures would be in the forefront at the next general election, and not the 95-year-old former prime minister.