KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik today announced his withdrawal from Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang), saying he is now an independent lawmaker.

The former education minister was one of the five MPs who formed the new Malay party in August with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad after being ousted from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia by its president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin earlier this year.

Three months on, Maszlee said he wishes to focus on the welfare of his Simpang Renggam constituents hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn by working with charities and non-governmental organisations instead.

“I am convinced that the people are tired of the political power play from the political elite.

“The people want politicians who are focused on serving and truly solving their problems now,” he said in a statement.

He added that his decision was based on feedback gathered from his constituents.

Maszlee raised eyebrows in political circles when his name was glaringly absent from a joint statement about the upcoming Budget 2021 tabling by Pejuang yesterday.

The statement calling for the Perikatan Nasional government, now led by Muhyiddin as prime minister to disclose its Budget plans before its tabling in Parliament was made in the name of Dr Mahathir as Langkawi MP, his son and Jerlun MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz, Kubang Pasu MP Datuk Seri Amiruddin Hamzah and Sri Gading MP Datuk Shahruddin Md Salleh.

Despite declaring his independence, Malay Mail understands that Maszlee has been in talks with the newly formed Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) led by Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

Several sources indicated that discussions were ongoing to lure the 45-year-old, soon to turn 46 next month, into Muda.

“Yes, we have been in talks with Dr Maszlee,” one source from Muda told Malay Mail on condition of anonymity, declining to elaborate further.