Pejuang eyes kingmaker role in GE15

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air is eyeing at least 30 parliamentary seats alongside its allies in Sabah in the next national polls, as it looks to be the kingmaker in what is expected to be a highly contested election.

The yet-to-be registered party currently has five MPs to its name, including Dr Mahathir, and 15 MPs from Parti Warisan Sabah under Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, who is Pejuang’s candidate to be the next prime minister.

“If we can get just 30 seats, we will be in a position to join either (coalitions). But if we want to join, we must insist on certain conditions. If they accept our conditions, then we will join,” Dr Mahathir (picture) told reporters at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya yesterday.

“We currently have 18 MPs, including in Sabah and Sarawak, and we will work with them. We hope in the peninsula also there will be enough people who will support us so that we can win, perhaps 30 seats would be enough. We are not going to form the government itself, but we are going to be the determinant as to who should be the government.”

Dr Mahathir said in the event of a general election, Pejuang will not contest against Pakatan Harapan parties though there are no plans to allocate seats yet. “There is no point fighting among ourselves,” the elder statesman said.

Pejuang’s electoral debut in the recent Slim by-election failed to make an impact in the Umno stronghold, giving the latter a landslide victory. The party was expecting to garner at least 4,000 votes but managed only 2,115 votes. Dr Mahathir, however, claimed that the state by-election was tainted by money politics as Perikatan Nasional had bribed the electorates to win votes.

“To think people would vote for a party that is associated with seven counts of corruption, I cannot accept,” he added.

Dr Mahathir reiterated that his party will mirror Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in its agenda of fighting against kleptocracy and abuse of power.

“We want to eliminate corruption. That is what Pejuang is fighting for,” he said.

Registration for the party is ongoing, with Bersatu’s registration previously given a guarantee of within 30 days, Pejuang chief Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir later said. Pejuang’s application was submitted to the Registrar of Societies on Aug 19.

While the total number of Pejuang members is unclear, it is estimated that about 70% of Bersatu members had defected from the party to join Dr Mahathir’s new party. Its grassroot members are mainly those involved in the Bersatu Blackout movement.

Meanwhile, commenting on Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s plan for a youth party, Dr Mahathir said he doubted that the party would be successful if it appeals only to young people.

“In any constituency, there will be young and old voters. If he appeals only to young people, it is difficult for him to succeed,” he said.

However, the former prime minister said he still had a good relationship with the former youth and sports minister, and that Pejuang would work with the latter if Syed Saddiq’s new party fought against corruption.