- UPDATED 11.48AM | Added more comments and details from Mahathir.
Bersatu chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he had urged his party president Muhyiddin Yassin to wait till after the criminal trials of Umno leaders were resolved before considering cooperation with Umno.
"Muhyiddin said he was willing to accept Umno en bloc.
"I said I could not agree... because I refuse to work with people who are still facing trial in criminal court.
"Because of that, I appealed (to wait till) the trial is over. If they are innocent, yes, but if they are guilty I cannot work with them," Mahathir said in a press conference at Yayasan Al Bukhary in Kuala Lumpur this morning.
Mahathir said Muhyiddin had been trying to persuade him to break off cooperation with DAP as he believed the losses in the Semenyih, Tanjung Piai and Kiwanis by-elections were DAP’s fault.
“The Malays believe DAP control the government, that I am so-called under (DAP secretary-general) Lim Guan Eng’s thumb.
“This is not true, but this is the ability of (former prime minister) Najib Abdul Razak that they no longer see Najib as being in the wrong, they are ready to kiss Najib’s hand,” Mahathir said.
However, Muhyiddin kept trying to persuade him to lead Bersatu out of Pakatan Harapan, he said.
Mahathir questioned why he should leave Harapan who is giving him their full support only to accept Najib.
“I am willing to accept (individual) Umno members but not en bloc.
“Instead, (Umno president) Ahmad Zahid Hamidi wants to join this unity government en bloc as Umno. This, I cannot accept.
“If we do not believe in DAP, we have to find a way to strengthen Bersatu,” he said.
Mahathir said he was concerned that if a new government was installed with Najib in it, it might influence certain decisions made by the court.
Mahathir said when he had asked for more time, until after the criminal trials of Umno leaders were resolved, Muhyiddin had told him “politics is more important than principles”.
“But Muhyiddin is willing to accept anything. He said politics is more important than principles.
“He said will I support him, I said I have no choice, whether I support him or not was irrelevant.
“He went around saying I endorsed his candidacy as prime minister,” Mahathir said.
But during the Bersatu supreme council meeting last Sunday, Mahathir said he had appealed to the council not to make a decision on leaving Harapan yet.
“But in the end, Bersatu decided to leave Harapan.
“With that, Harapan had lost the majority and could not be the government anymore,” he said.