Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad just accepted seven Umno MPs into his politial party, Bersatu, on Tuesday (Jan 12).
Mahathir had initially said he would not accept defectors from Umno as members of PH.
The news sparked an angry statement from Chang Lih Kang, vice president of PH component party PKR, who called the move “a sheer betrayal” of the peoples’ decision to “oust” Umno at the elections.
They’ve crossed the great divide – seven former Umno MPs are now members of the ruling PH coalition, after being accepted into PM Mahathir Mohamad’s Malaysian United Indigenous Party (Bersatu) on Tuesday (Jan 12), the New Straits Times (NST) reported.
This comes just months after two high ranking Umno MPs – Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (former chief of Umno’s wing for young women) and Mustapa Mohamed (former International Trade and Industry Minister) were formally made members of Bersatu.
Rumors swirled last October that as many as 40 Umno MPs could end up defecting to the current ruling party, with concerns that they were doing so to avoid corruption charges.
In December, 16 Umno reps then quit the party and met with Mahathir, who has since denied claims that he engineered the mass defection.
The Prime Minister initially said he would not accept defectors from Umno as registered members of the coalition, particularly “criminals” with records of corruption.
He then said that Bersatu would accept Umno MPs who had left the party and been independent candidates “for a period of time”, NST said. Umno MPs wishing to join the party would also have to be vetted, The Star said.
According to NST, Mahathir said on Jan 12 that the seven former Umno MPs had had their applications vetted and approved, adding that all of them were made regular members.
This means they cannot hold any positions in the party, NST quoted the PM as saying.
However, Mahathir said he planned to use these new members for “specific tasks like campaigning for the party”, and seek their opinion “on certain matters”, NST said.
The news, however, has alarmed other parties in the PH coalition.
In a statement posted to Facebook, PKR vice president Chang Lih Kang said he was “appalled and aghast” at Mahathir’s move, pointing out that “in less than a year”, the PM had gone back on his word not to accept Umno defectors.
Calling the move “a sheer betrayal” of the peoples’ decision to “oust” Umno at the elections, Chang added that PH should stop reinstating MPs from the former regime into the new government.