by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
PARTI Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s grassroots support continues to slip as more members leave the party to support former chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who announced his new party last week.
Bersatu members from Merbok, Kedah, yesterday announced their departure from the four-year-old party, emulating other divisions that had earlier decided to quit Bersatu.
Merbok’s representative, Anuar Abdul Hamid, said all 19 branches comprising some 4,173 members have decided to leave the party and shift their support to Dr Mahathir.
He said the division has lost confidence in the party’s president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and its supreme council, who decided to leave the Pakatan Harapan (PH) bloc and form the new coalition government with Umno.
Anuar said in a statement announcing the departure of all of the division members in Sungai Petani yesterday that it was “very unfortunate” for the party to be “hijacked” and that Merbok — which has among the most active members in Malaysia — would remain steadfast to the original principle of the party.
Also present at the event was Bersatu supreme council member Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi and lawyer Mohd Haniff Khatri Abdulla.
“Today, Merbok and Jerlun divisions have been dissolved. This move is also supported by branches from all over Kedah. The Penang branches are also closing progressively,” Akhramsyah told The Malaysian Reserve when asked to comment.
A political analyst, however, believed that while the split in Bersatu is very much expected following Dr Mahathir’s departure, it is too early to say that Bersatu would totally collapse.
“There are still many who support Muhyiddin. It will indeed weaken Bersatu, but the party can still hold its own,” Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Politics and International Relations Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said.
Meanwhile, in Shah Alam, the division deputy chief Mohd Azlan Shah Mohd Arshad announced that three of the division’s committee members and chiefs of five branches have also resigned from Bersatu.
He said the decision is made without any pressure and claimed that this would be the first wave of similar moves by members of the Shah Alam division.
“The resignation letter will be sent to the Bersatu secretary general earliest by today,” he told a media conference, adding that the former Bersatu members will immediately start work on gathering new supporters for Dr Mahathir’s new party.
Dr Mahathir earlier said that a Malay-based party will replace Bersatu. Dr Mahathir’s and his supporters’ memberships were revoked by Bersatu after they decided not to be part of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) bloc in Parliament.
Dr Mahathir said at a press conference last Friday that the new party aims to redeem the dignity of the Malays that have been “tainted by treachery, cheating, lying, corruption and greed due to the doings of other Malay party leaders”.
He said the new party will not be aligned with either PH or PN.
While the party’s main focus will be on Malay issues, it will also uphold the interests of minority groups.
The unnamed party is expected to be registered soon and will contest in the Slim by-election scheduled for Aug 29. Dr Mahathir’s new party currently has the support of two Johor MPs, namely Sri Gading MP Shahruddin Mohd Salleh and Simpang Renggam MP Dr Maszlee Malik.
Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who was also sacked from Bersatu, has yet to declare his support for the new party.
Bersatu supreme council members — Datuk Abdul Kadir Jasin, Tariq Ismail Mustafa, Abu Bakar Yahya and Ulya Agamah Husamudin — exited the party over the weekend, which also saw a series of announcements from various Bersatu divisions and branches that decided to leave.
Among them is Jeram assemblyman cum Kuala Selangor division chief Mohd Shaid Rosli. He said the Kuala Selangor Bersatu division would be disbanded.
In Langkawi, 16 branches and a division in Langkawi led by Dr Mahathir were said to be automatically dissolved due to the resignation of its deputy head Shukor Bahari, together with 22 out of 26 branch committee leaders. The division comprises some 4,900 members.
A report recently revealed that tension seems to be brewing in Johor as several Bersatu divisions are also expected to be dissolved.
Before the crisis, Bersatu had 189 divisions nationwide and about 300,000 members in total.
Akhramsyah reportedly said around 70% of the total Bersatu members in Peninsular Malaysia or about 200,000 would leave the party amid the current development.