KUALA LUMPUR: Malays will be split further if there are more Malay-based political parties, says Opposition bloc chief Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Ismail, who is also Umno vice-president, said that although anyone was free to set up their race-based political parties as long as they were recognised by the Registrar of Societies, it was not a good thing for Malay unity.
"We cannot stop anyone as Malaysia is a democracy.
"However, the more Malay-based parties there are, the more split up the Malays will be. If the party has a lot of support, it is okay.
"We try to minimise the split by uniting Umno and PAS, but then we have many more smaller parties cropping up," said Ismail.
He, however, refused to say he agreed with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who said the setting-up of new race-based parties would only divide the Malay community further.
"That is my statement. You can interpret it as you want (if I agree with the PM)," said Ismail.
On Tuesday (May 28), Dr Mahathir took a jibe at the formation of Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), founded by Malay rights activist Datuk Ibrahim Ali.
In a sarcastic tone, Dr Mahathir said anyone was free to set up as many parties as they wanted.
"If we set up 100 parties, that is good. The Malay community will be further divided into 100 groups and there is not one big Malay party.
"I encourage the setting up of more Malay-based parties.
"At this juncture, the 60% Malay majority are only divided into four, which is still okay but now, it is broken up into 100," said Dr Mahathir.