The five MPs dropped by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), including its founder Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, have decried the move as illegal and reflective of party president Muhyiddin Yassin’s insecurities and dictatorial leadership.
In a joint statement on Thursday, Mahathir and the other four MPs rubbished the interpretation of their decision not to join Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s government bench in Parliament as joining another party, which results in automatic revocation of memberships, according to the Bersatu Constitution.
“This reflects the president’s dictatorial attitude. We also state here that the unilateral move by the Bersatu president in sacking us without cause is due to his difficulties in the face of party elections, as well as his insecurity as the most unstable prime minister in the history of this country’s administration,” they said.
Bersatu executive secretary Suhaimi Yahya had issued letters on Thursday informing party founder Mahathir, his son Mukhriz, youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, former education minister Maszlee Malik and former deputy finance minister Amiruddin Hamzah that sitting in the opposition bench during the May 18 parliamentary sitting had resulted in the termination of their memberships.
But the five lawmakers disputed the outcome, saying that interpreting their decision not to join Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s loose Perikatan Nasional (PN) pact as leaving Bersatu “is very shallow and unreasonable” as their actions were legal and in line with Malaysia’s Federal Constitution as MPs.
“We categorically disagree that our membership has been stopped immediately, not to mention it is in contradiction with the rules while denying us our right to defend ourselves and provide explanations, which is our right under the principles of the rule of law.
“What is evident, the office of the president is playing with politics during the Covid-19 outbreak and the economic downturn that has afflicted the country,” they said.
The five, who also dispute the assertion that Bersatu’s leadership had agreed to leave Pakatan Harapan (PH) in February, which eventually resulted in Muhyiddin succeeding Tun Dr Mahathir as premier on March 1, said they reserved the right to legal action.
Their claim that Bersatu leaders had not agreed to leave PH was denied by the party’s secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin.
“The decision to leave Pakatan Harapan was made at a Supreme Council meeting on Feb 23 that was chaired by Tun Dr Mahathir himself,” he said in a statement issued Friday.
At a press conference at Bersatu headquarters in Petaling Jaya on Friday, Dr Mahathir insisted that his removal was invalid and that he remained chairman of the party.
He also repeated the claim that Muhyiddin took the party out of the PH coalition without party approval.
The ouster of the five lawmakers from Bersatu comes on the back of an unprecedented 45-minute sitting of Parliament on May 18, which saw Muhyiddin’s majority untested after he ordered the Speaker to end proceedings immediately after the King’s annual opening speech.
Dr Mahathir had sought to move a vote of no confidence for the Premier who, based on the seating arrangements in Parliament, has 113 MPs in his PN alliance, just above the 112 needed for a simple majority.