More joining Bersatu than leaving, says Hamzah

(Malaysiakini) – The recent exodus of Bersatu members loyal to its former chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad has not caused a dent to the party, said its secretary-general.

Hamzah Zainudin claimed that the number of defectors was small compared to new membership applications they had been receiving.

“I want to say this. The very day they (Mahathir camp) announced they were forming a new political party, we received 20,000 new membership applications on that day alone.

“So, if six people quit Bersatu and in exchange we get 20,000 newcomers, this is actually good for us,” he told reporters at a press conference after launching the Immigration Department’s Excellent Service Award ceremony in Putrajaya.

Hamzah was commenting on the formation of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) by Mahathir, whose Bersatu membership was terminated after he sat with the opposition in Parliament last May.

Since Mahathir’s announcement on his new party on Friday, a number of key Bersatu division leaders had quit the party, leading to the collapse of many Bersatu divisions.

These include divisions that were supposed to hold their meeting to elect office-bearers, as part of Bersatu’s ongoing party election.

However, according to Hamzah, the number of divisions affected were also small compared to those still functioning.

“Everyone has the right to form their own party. And everyone also has their own support base. But on our side, we have to be ready and work hard to ensure that our party continues to be strengthened.

“This week alone, there will be 187 divisions holding meetings. From this number, only around 10 (affected by the exodus) can not hold the election.

“Sometimes, people are like empty cans, noisy on the outside but empty on the inside. What we are doing is in silence,” he added.

Asked on whether the government will approve the registration of Pejuang as a political party, the home minister said the question should be asked to the Registrar of Society (ROS).

Hamzah said that while he is the minister that oversees ROS, he does not look into registration applications.

‘I did not pay anyone to support Musa Aman’

Last night, Mahathir unveiled the full name of his new political platform during a session to introduce a candidate for the Slim by-election in Perak.

The nonagenarian announced that the party would be known as Pejuang, which means fighter in Malay. Its full name in English is “Fighters of the Nation Party”.

During the session, Mahathir alleged that Hamzah was responsible for the defections of Warisan state assembly representatives in Sabah which led to the dissolution of the state assembly.

In his speech, Mahathir claimed that Hamzah had played money politics to get the assemblypersons to switch their support to former chief minister Musa Aman (below), who is from Umno.

To this, Hamzah denied that he had ever paid anyone to renege on backing incumbent Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal, neither does he know of anyone who did.

He took a swipe at Mahathir, telling the latter to stop making accusations.

“At such an age, he should not make such accusations. Such action is sinful. I had never paid anyone (as alleged). And if anyone did, I also do not know,” he said.

Hamzah claimed that on the contrary, it was those from Mahathir’s camp who made offers to Bersatu MPs to defect from Perikatan Nasional (PN).

“There were Bersatu MPs who received calls promising many things. So this is the same behaviour, they say something but do something else.

“Please, stop doing this. The people had put him (Mahathir) in such a high place, but if he continues to make accusations like this, the people will no longer believe him,” he added.

Meanwhile, asked on PN’s preparation for the Sabah state election and on whether they have decided on seat allocations, Hamzah said they need some time to finalise the matter.

He said that he had met leaders from various parties in support of the PN government, including Umno, PBS and Star.