KUALA LUMPUR – Aug 18, 2016: Former prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad is being heavily criticised for stating that the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi Bersatu) that he decided to form will cater mainly to voters in the rural areas and less sophisticated urbanites .
Netizens consider Mahathir’s statement as unbecoming because it downgrades these two segments of society.
In his latest blog, Mahathir defended the yet-to-be-registered as one that will fight for the Malays and Bumiputras, stressing that the majority of Malaysians still prefer racial politics.
“The sophisticated and highly educated urban people may believe that racial politics is not in keeping with the times but on the ground it is different.
“For the rural people, who largely are poor, race is not only important but they believe (it) is essential for their well-being. Umno’s popularity is because it is a racial party.
“If the new party is to compete with Umno, it must give the people in the rural constituencies and the unsophisticated urban constituencies the kind of comfort associated with Umno’s kind of racism,” outlines the blog.
Mahathir further contended that forming the party was absolutely necessary as the ruling party is unable to bring about changes and has failed to play the role and upholding the objectives for which it was formed.
Several Facebook users thought that the claims by Mahathir were unfair against the segments he highlighted.
Aboo Zayn wrote: “If that is why they created the party (Pribumi Bersatu), then they are really stupid.
“To the rural folks, Umno is more than a political party. It is seen as a Malay institution. Whenever the rural folks have problems, they’ll turn to Umno leaders. They wouldn’t go to PKR or PAS because these are merely ‘political’ parties. Same goes to you (Pribumi Bersatu).
Hadji Lee Maverick commented: “I live in a village near Port Klang, at a constituency that is supervised by a PKR parliamentarian. Yet I have seen a lot of help and care provided by Umno to the villagers, including my family.
“It is unbecoming to say that we, the people who live in the rural areas, are accustomed to Umno-type racism, when the Umno leaders have since showed that they really care for us.”
Hanif Kamaruddin wrote: “Umno has always looked after the welfare of rural Malays. They also have sponsored a lot of activities.
“They (Umno) have strong grassroots in almost every Malay village. You can’t be popular overnight just because you have a Bumiputra-based party.
“It takes time for people to grow soft on you. Not everyone enjoys smear campaign tactics by the way.”
Maxmilan Juka Nisir chided Mahathir thus: “It is stupid for him to say that the new party is formed to cater for rural and unsophisticated folks.
“As if he is implying that for the 22 years of his premiership, he had never helped those people. Is he showing his true colours now?”
Ike Dean wrote: “In his classic style, the rural Malays are sarcastically labelled as racists, out of his frustration after realising that Pribumi Bersatu has in fact been rejected from day one.
“Either way, the Malays in general will not gamble their future and succumb to any deal with a party that has such a mindset.”
However, some support Mahathir’s stance.
One is Jeremy Ting: “I fully support another pure Malay party to replace the rotten party. For an old man, he comes out to do this because he feels the need to put things right in the country.”
The plan to form Pribumi Bersatu by Mahathir and supporters follows months of criticisms of the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Pribumi Bersatu is awaiting approval by the Registrar of Societies.