KUALA LUMPUR: The Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) are trying to seek cooperation with Shafie Apdal, the former Umno vice president, in Sabah for the forthcoming general elections (GE14).
“We are aware of Parti Warisan Sabah and we are trying to seek cooperation with them,” Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying by a news portal in response to a question raised by a party member regarding Bersatu’s absence in both the Borneo states.
The Malaysian Insight reported the Bersatu chief saying that it was difficult to form Bersatu branches in both states now as East Malaysians strongly hold onto “Sabah for Sabahans, and Sarawak for Sarawakians” policies.
He said they are seeking cooperation with Shafie who is leading the new party, Parti Warisan Sabah.
Dr Mahathir said the year-old Parti Warisan has captured the imagination of rising politicians and many young Sabahans who want greater autonomy from Putrajaya.
Shafie refused to join Bersatu, which also started last year, despite being offered the deputy president’s post to start Warisan and stop the practice of making decisions for Sabah by peninsula-based political parties, a long-standing grouse among Sabahans.
Noting this, Dr Mahathir told the seminar today, “If we enter, there might be problems between us and existing parties in both states.
“We are aware of Parti Warisan Sabah and we are trying to seek cooperation with Shafie,” the Bersatu chairman said.
Shafie has always maintained that Parti Warisan will not join Pakatan Harapan, the opposition coalition formed by Bersatu, Amanah, DAP and PKR. But he did not rule out some form of cooperation as they all have the same objective – that is to topple the Barisan Nasional.
Dr Mahathir said he was also warmly welcomed by Sarawakians during his recent visit there.
“Many feared that I would be denied entry into Sarawak. Fortunately I received a warm welcome from the locals. They want me to visit Miri now,” said Dr Mahathir who is also the chairman of the opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Last month Dr Mahathir and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang were in Kuching for PH’s first ceramah in Sarawak.
There were fears that they would be denied entry after PKR’s Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin and Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian were barred from entering Sarawak after landing in Miri.
“However, I have yet to visit Sabah,” Dr Mahathir said.
Muhyiddin Yassin, the Bersatu president said the party will be established in East Malaysia when the time is right and added they are currently working on strengthening the party in Peninsula Malaysia.
“When the time comes, we will spread our wings there (East Malaysia).
“We took some time to form the party in Peninsula Malaysia due to financial issues, among others.
“For the time being, we will focus on strengthening our position in the peninsula and with our current position, we can achieve victory and I am confident we can spread into East Malaysia,” he said.