Malaysia has ordered former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad’s year-old party to halt its activities ahead of this year’s general election.
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM)’s temporary de-registration came a day before parliament is expected to be dissolved ahead of the election.
The Registrar of Societies (ROS) claimed the party had failed to submit details of its annual general meeting in December 2017, as requested by the registrar. PPBM has 30 days to submit the paperwork or face being disbanded permanently.
PPBM is not allowed to use its logo, campaign or fund raise.
The party is part of Pakatan Harapan (PH), a four-party opposition bloc. The ROS has refused to register PH as a formal coalition, alleging irregularities.
PH said it would take legal action against the ruling, while Mahathir blamed his former protege Prime Minister Najib Razak for the ROS move.
Najib’s United Malay National Organisation has ruled with its coalition allies since independence in 1957.
“In order to win the elections, he has ordered my party Bersatu to be declared illegal. I am not allowed to identify myself with the illegal party,” Mahathir, 92, told the media.
PPBM supreme council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan said: “The deregistration order is an abuse of power by a regime that is desperate to stay in office.”
Mahathir turned on Najib after it was revealed in 2015 that US$681 million in funds from the state-run 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund had reportedly reached Najib’s personal account.
More than six countries are investigating alleged misappropriation of cash linked to 1MDB while Najib has denied all the allegations.
PPBM is seen as key to winning rural Malay support.
The opposition alliance has announced that it will campaign and contest the election under the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) if the ban is not lifted.
PKR was formed by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim 20 years ago, after he was sacked by Mahathir as deputy prime minister.
The former veteran prime minister mended ties with Anwar, despite having him jailed, in an attempt to remove Najib.
Mahathir remains Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister after 22 years in the job.
It was reported that only the PH’s ethnically Chinese-dominated Democratic Action Party (DAP) had reservations about using the PKR logo but said it agreed to an emergency compromise.
“We have met and we have decided to use a common logo. This isn’t an easy decision for the party, but DAP agrees to use a common logo,” DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng told the media.
The 2018 election looks like it will be more competitive than the last general election in 2013. Picture credit: Wikimedia