KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia will have a hard time getting support in comparison to Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s now defunct Parti Melayu Semangat 46 (S46).
“S46 was different. We were formed because many Umno members were not allowed to join the new party that Dr Mahathir formed when Umno was split,” said Tengku Razaleigh at the opening of a cultural heritage exhibition fair of Malay and Chinese artifacts at the Museum of Asian Art at University of Malaya.
“We formed S46 more easily because Umno was split from top to bottom. So it was easier for us to set up divisions and branches from those Umno members who were not allowed to join the new Umno,” he said.
However, Tengku Razaleigh said Dr Mahathir’s new party doesn’t have the grassroots support and would have to “start from the bottom”.
“He doesn’t want just anyone to join, so to form a branch or division won’t be easy,” he said.
Parti Pribumi only offers full memberships to bumiputras, orang asli, Sabahans and Sarawakians, while other Malaysians can be associate members. Associate members cannot contest for posts and will not be able to vote in party polls.
“If associate members cannot vote, they cannot determine the direction of the party,” said Tengku Razaleigh.
“If the party does not represent all the different ethnicities, I feel that it will be difficult for it to attract support,” he said.
“More young people are open-minded, with education and exposure to the prevailing situation in our country,” he added.
Asked if he would join Parti Pribumi, Tengku Razaleigh said: “I’m already a member of Umno.”
“I’m still a member of Umno and I don’t see anything wrong with that. If I see anything wrong, I think I have to provide ideas, suggestions or proposals within the party,” he said.
Tengku Razaleigh left Umno to form S46 in 1988.
He formed the party with the support of former prime ministers Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Hussein Onn to challenge Dr Mahathir and Umno.
The party contested several elections and won seats. But its influence shrunk by 1996, when the party folded and Tengku Razaleigh rejoined Umno.