Umno doesn't care what happens to M'sia, I cannot join with them: Mahathir

He also said that Bersatu has got "some problems."

Sulaiman Daud | May 26, 2023, 04:00 PM

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Mahathir Mohamad said that if push came to shove, and he had to choose between supporting either Umno or Bersatu in the next general election, he would not select Umno.

"In my view, Umno has been destroyed. It no longer adheres to the objectives that it was formed," he said.

The nonagenarian was speaking in Tokyo, Japan at the 28th Nikkei Forum on the Future of Asia conference. The session was moderated by editor-in-chief of Nikkei Asia Shin Nakayama.

During the combined dialogue and question and answer session, Mahathir addressed topics like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S.-China tensions, and global peace, warning against escalation into nuclear conflict.

He also addressed a question on Malaysian politics, as the former leader of both Umno and Bersatu.

Umno is a totally different party: Mahathir

In response to a question from Mothership, Mahathir made clear that he does not see Umno in a positive light.

"Today, we see Umno... as a party that is only interested in making money, it doesn't care what happens to the country, what happens to the people," he said.

"Therefore I will not be with Umno anymore, because this is not the Umno that I joined before — that I led before. This is a totally different party. So I cannot join with Umno."

However, Mahathir said he was potentially open to supporting Bersatu, albeit with some caveats.

"I can only join Bersatu, but then of course, even Bersatu has got some problems. We need to discuss... and we need to find a common approach to dealing with Malaysian politics," he added.

Former leader of Umno, Bersatu and Malaysia

Mahathir first served as prime minister from 1981 to 2003. Malaysians experienced rapid economic growth under his tenure, but also faced challenges like the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

Following his departure, Mahathir became increasingly critical of one of his successors as prime minister, Najib Razak.

He called for Najib to resign over the 1MDB financial scandal and left Umno in 2016, forming a new party, Bersatu.

Allying with former protege turned adversary Anwar Ibrahim of Pakatan Harapan (PH), Mahathir's Bersatu helped the coalition to an unprecedented victory in 2018. Mahathir therefore became prime minister for a second time.

Following his resignation from his second stint as prime minister in 2020, and the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government, Mahathir and Bersatu parted ways.

He formed a new party (Pejuang) and coalition (GTA) and stood as a candidate in the November 2022 Malaysian general election.

However, he lost his contest in Langkawi, and did not receive enough votes to keep his election deposit.

Following his loss, Mahathir quit Pejuang in February 2023 and GTA in May 2023. He recently announced a "Malay proclamation", reportedly aimed at uplifting the Malay community of Malaysia, which attracted the attention of opposition parties like PAS.

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Top image by Andrew Koay