KUALA LUMPUR: The invitation by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Umno members to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is a political strategy for Bersatu to retain the Prime Minister’s post, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
“The call by Dr Mahathir does not come as a surprise or shock to me.
“It is normal for him to invite others to join Bersatu, so that it will be the largest party in the Pakatan Harapan coalition.
“This would mean that the Prime Minister’s post should be given to his party,” he told reporters after opening the 40th annual general meeting of Koperasi Serbaguna Malaysia Bhd (KSMB) at Wisma MCA here yesterday.
He noted that Bersatu had initially started with 13 parliament seats after the May 9 polls last year but has since doubled its number following a crossover by Umno members recently.
“This a strategy, and there is no harm trying to strengthen the position of one’s own party.
“What we are talking about is political bargaining power which is based on the number of seats,” added the MCA president.
Dr Wee said DAP leaders, adviser Lim Kit Siang and secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, should speak up on the issue.
“All this while you (Kit Siang and Guan Eng) have been criticising Malay parties.
“What is your comment on Dr Mahathir’s open invitation ... say something and don’t just keep silent,” he added.
On Friday, Dr Mahathir made the call for Umno members to join Bersatu owing to the growing political division among Malays.
Dr Mahathir shrugged off any friction that may arise with PKR over his calls, saying this was not a concern as they too were free to look for new members.
On a separate issue, Dr Wee said there should not be a blanket attempt by the government to abolish the mandatory death penalty.
He said the implications of abolishing the death penalty must be viewed for each offence separately.
He added that the government should also take into consideration a survey by a local daily (Berita Harian) which showed that 78% out of 22,000 individuals polled were against abolishing the mandatory death penalty.
He also said the government should be clear if it intended to abolish the penalty or was merely to give discretionary powers to the judges on the sentence.
On Thursday, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that a Bill would be tabled in Parliament to abolish the mandatory death penalty for 11 serious offences.
In its place, he said, judges would be given the discretion to impose 30 years’ jail or life imprisonment on those convicted of the offences.
The nine offences fall under the Penal Code and two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act.