Mahathir fights dismissal from party for sitting with opposition

Mahathir fights dismissal from party for sitting with opposition

Malaysian former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a news conference in Putrajaya on May 18, 2020. (Reuters photo)
Malaysian former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad speaks during a news conference in Putrajaya on May 18, 2020. (Reuters photo)

Malaysia’s former leader Mahathir Mohamad is fighting a dismissal from his own political party, which has been split between lawmakers supporting the ruling and opposition coalitions.

A letter signed by the general secretary of the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, commonly known as Bersatu, said Mahathir along with four lawmakers had been dismissed from the party after they sat on the opposition coalition’s side during the one-day parliament sitting on May 18.

Mahathir, who was the party’s leader, said the action was against the law and sent out a letter saying the general secretary had been dismissed.

Bersatu, which now has 32 seats in parliament, is currently split: At least five lawmakers including Mahathir belong to a camp that backs the opposition and the rest likely support the ruling coalition that took shape under Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. The numbers may prove crucial if the opposition presses ahead with a no-confidence motion when parliament meets next.

Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has called Muhyiddin “fearful” for not allowing a confidence vote to go through in parliament in a meeting on May 18, which was limited to hosting only the king’s speech. He said the next day his Pakatan Harapan coalition had 107 seats of the total 222, though it’s unclear whether that includes Mahathir and the Bersatu lawmakers who support him.

Mahathir founded Bersatu after he left the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), which has ruled the country for most of its history, after clashing with party leaders over their handling of the 1MDB scandal. Bersatu was roiled in February when a few party members sought to bring in Umno into the then-ruling coalition, which prompted Mahathir to abruptly resign.


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