Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Pakatan Harapan is not worried about cooperation between Umno and PAS, which was said to be the cause of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) victory in the Semenyih by-election on Saturday.
The prime minister (PM), who is also Pakatan Harapan chairman, said he is confident the cooperation would only happen during by-elections where the victory would not bring much meaning.
“In a by-election, a win or a loss is not disastrous, but in the general election, they would not be able to cooperate.
“If they cooperate, PAS would not get anything,” he told reporters after officiating the National Landscape Day at the Botanical Garden in Putrajaya yesterday.
BN recaptured the Semenyih state seat when its candidate Zakaria Hanafi won the four cornered-contest with a majority of 1,914 votes.
Conceding the use of extreme religious issues during the campaign was among the cause of Pakatan Harapan’s defeat, Dr Mahathir said Pakatan Harapan would be conducting a post-mortem very soon to identify the real cause of the coalition’s loss in defending the seat which it won in last year’s 14th General Election.
He said the difference in majority obtained also showed Semenyih voters had changed their minds due to negative perceptions and religious provocations during the campaign period.
“There are some people who unnecessary provoke anger like painting cartoon of Prophet Muhammad, and this kind of thing doesn’t contribute towards the betterment of this country,” he said.
On the failure to fulfil manifesto promises being seen as one of the factors contributing to Pakatan Harapan’s loss, Dr Mahathir said the government needs more time to realise what was promised.
The PM said while Pakatan Harapan would be working towards meeting election pledges, the government also needs time to pay debt of more than RM1 trillion left behind by the previous government.
Taking the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project debt as an example, Dr Mahathir said the government has to pay RM200 million in interest every six months for the RM55 billion loan taken. “This means the money we have which should be used to help the people was forced to be used to pay the debt left to us.”
Dr Mahathir also defended Pakatan Harapan’s allegations against PAS because it was confident what was said was true such as breaking a promise not to support Umno in Semenyih, as well as the RM1.4 million paid to Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown to settle out of court the defamation suit involving PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang — Bernama