PUTRAJAYA, Sept 18 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has downplayed Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed’s shock exit from Umno tonight, saying the move had come too late.
Dr Mahathir, himself formerly an Umno president, said it would have been a different matter altogether if the Jeli MP had left the party earlier — not when Umno has already been “damaged”.
“He has realised it, but it was a bit late should have realised it earlier. He only left now that Umno is damaged. It’s okay lah,” he told reporters here, referring to the politician popularly known as Tok Pa.
Speaking on the sidelines of the 2018 Malaysian Franchise Awards Night, Dr Mahathir said he is unaware if Mustapa will be joining any Pakatan Harapan (PH) component party soon.
“I do not know. He did not say anything about that,” said the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chairman.
When pressed further, Dr Mahathir said Mustapa would have to first prove he has changed, should he wish to join PH.
Mustapa, who was with Umno for four decades, cited disillusionment with the party’s growing shift from the middle ground as the reason for his resignation.
His decision today came amid plans by Umno to cooperate with Islamist party PAS, which has governed the east coast state of Kelantan for the last 28 years after toppling Barisan Nasional in 1990.
Kelantan PH chairman Senator Husam Musa earlier tonight suggested that he would welcome Mustapa with open arms after the latter is done with his “mourning period”.
Meanwhile, former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has blamed his party president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for Mustapa’s sudden decision to quit the party.