Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today lamented the change overtaking the party he once helmed for over two decades, saying Umno is now “becoming PAS.”
Commenting on the performance of the new opposition, the premier said that the latter had resorted to playing up racial and religious issues in order to survive, instead of concentrating on the government.
“Umno has become PAS. They are totally dominated by PAS. They are listening to PAS. It is not the Umno that I knew. It is not the Umno that was founded in 1946.
“I have been with Umno from 1946. I know what Umno is all about, but this is not Umno.
"It is just a group of politicians who want to perpetuate their positions,” he said in an interview published by the New Straits Times today.
Mahathir previously served as BN chairperson and the fourth prime minister from 1981 to 2003. He was replaced by Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
In recent months, Umno and fellow opposition member PAS have struck more than just a conciliatory note, even officially announcing the formalisation of their political ties in March.
The two parties have been aiding each other during several recent by-elections, beginning with the Sungai Kandis polls last year.
The cooperation was largely seen as a big factor behind BN’s win in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary by-election earlier this year.
On the issue of racial politics, Mahathir said in the interview, that his Pakatan Harapan government could not deny that the issue of race was an important factor.
He said although the government strived to create equality between the different races, the disparity between the bumiputera and non-bumiputera communities could not be ignored.
“The fact of the differences between the races is there. While we do not want to play the racial issue, we must ensure that no race is left behind.
“We know at this moment the Malays, in particular, are very far behind. We need to make corrections and that is why we say it’s not just about equality, it is also about fairness. We have to be fair.
“Unfortunately, I believe that if you don’t look into the interests of the bumiputera, they will lose out.”
Mahathir further elaborated on the practice of direct negotiations for tender, or limited tender, which he deemed as “discrimination” invented in favour of the bumiputera.
Without such practices, however, he said the bumiputera would "get nothing."
“Because they are not people who are commercially oriented. They don’t even understand the use of money. So we have to give consideration to that.”