THE Malaysian government on Thursday ordered a provisional deregistration of the political party led by opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a day before Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to call the elections.
The country’s Registrar of Societies (RoS) ordered Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to temporarily disband for 30 days.
The notice of disbandment means that Bersatu, which was founded by the 93-year-old Dr Mahathir, would not be allowed to conduct any party activity, pending an appeal and a notice to fulfill various requirements set out by the government agency.
According to The Star, RoS director-general Surayati Ibrahim said Bersatu has failed to fulfil the RoS’ Feb 28 notice requesting for documents and details regarding the party.
“If PPBM (Bersatu) manages to hand over all the required documents and information within the said period, the RoS can cancel the provisional dissolution order,” Surayati said.
She said any activity or the use of its logo and name after the latest RoS notice would be in violation of the law.
Surayati also declined to comment on allegations that it is a political ploy to bar Bersatu from contesting in the general election, according to the New Straits Times. She added the RoS was acting on complaints from party members.
“The decision taken by the RoS was made based on facts that we have received from PPBM’s (Bersatu) members. PPBM members were not satisfied with the ongoings in the party administration such as meetings and documentation distributed to them,” she said, as quoted by The Sun.
“They also cited the use of the word ‘Armada’ when it is not even listed in the party’s constitution.”
The opposition party believes the move is a last-ditch attempt by the Najib government to prevent Bersatu from contesting in the polls.
Dr Mahathir said the letter from the RoS informing the party that it was in provisional dissolution was full of legal discrepancies.
“We dispute the legality of the notice sent to us. Our conclusion is that we are still a functioning party,” he said, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today.
“We can advertise to the whole world that the RoS is in breach of the law and that this country has become lawless.”
Bersatu Youth Chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman told MalaysiaKini that the provisional deregistration of the party was a “dirty” tactic but it will not be the end of the party.
“One day before parliament is dissolved and before we face the mother of all elections, the chief of the RoS, who reports to the Prime Minister, announces the disbandment of our beloved party,” he said, adding the party is just a “vehicle” for the people.
He said if Bersatu is deregistered, the party would “rise again with another to bring forward the message of hope for a better Malaysia.”
The election date remains a closely guarded secret for Najib who holds the cards to call for the polls due before August this year.
However, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, a minister in the Prime Minister’s department and Nazri Aziz, the country’s Tourism and Culture Minister, predict that parliament would be dissolved after the scheduled Cabinet meeting this Friday.