KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18 — Bersatu leader Tan Sri Rais Yatim alleged in an interview that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad created the new Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) party to provide a platform for his and his son, Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir’s political careers.

The former minister told Utusan Malaysia it was illogical for Dr Mahathir to claim that Pejuang was meant to champion the interests of the Malay-Bumiputera community when the later established Bersatu expressly for that purpose in 2016.

There were also at least three parties already vying to represent the Malay community, he added.

Rais then said he believed the former Bersatu chairman also created Pejuang with a particular angle in mind.

“It isn’t yet clear what the angle is. But what is clear is that he said he would likely be the chairman while his son is the president.

“This, to me, is the purpose of the party to Tun Mahathir,” Rais said in the interview.

The former minister also expressed surprise at Dr Mahathir’s decision, recalling that the latter previously said Bersatu would be the final sanctuary for the Malay community.

When asked if Pejuang and those leaving Bersatu to back Dr Mahathir would add pressure to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s administration, Rais said this was undeniable.

However, he said Dr Mahathir’s attacks could be neutralised by turning the focus back on the former prime minister, chiefly by making him explain his actions that led to the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government.

The Malay community should demand Dr Mahathir explain why he resigned as the PM and as the chairman of the party he founded, and why whatever he was planning had not been possible in Bersatu, Rais said.

“But what I want to ask is, what did Tun do for 22 months (when PH had been in power)? Aside from promising to give (the PM’s position) to Anwar Ibrahim, which became an on-and-off situation.

“To my count, Tun promised 11 times, then withdrew all those promises to Anwar Ibrahim. Then he said the Malays were lazy. The impact of this is very terrifying.”

Dr Mahathir announced the Pejuang party on August 7, after the High Court rejected his lawsuit against Muhyiddin and Bersatu for revoking his and the memberships of six other lawmakers.

Dr Mahathir formed Bersatu in 2016 after he left Umno following a failed campaign to have the Malay nationalist party remove Datuk Seri Najib Razak as the prime minister.

He lost control of Bersatu during the February political crisis triggered by his unforced resignation as the prime minister and was unsuccessful in his campaign to be reappointed as the head of a “unity government” encompassing all of Malaysia’s major political parties.