COMMENTARY, Aug 5 — The battle for Malay supremacy continues with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) hoping to deliver a mortal blow to Umno at the next general election.
This comes after his previous attempt to do so with his former party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) failed.
Once again Dr Mahathir's determination to finish off the oldest Malay political party in the country by targeting 120 seats against Umno's plan to contest 92 seats seems to be a bit of an overreach.
Mahathir sees the coming general election (GE 15) as the only chance to kill Umno and the coalition it leads — Barisan Nasional (BN) — as failure to do this time around will mean an Umno-led BN leading the country again.
With that in mind, he launched Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) yesterday. GTA is a coalition that comprises Pejuang, Parti Perikatan India Muslim Nasional (Iman), Parti Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) and Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra).
At the launch, he said GTA is also open to Malay-based parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals.
Pejuang stayed out of the Melaka state election as it was still new in the political scene although its leaders are veterans and the party tested the waters at the Johor state election but lost all 40 seats it contested.
Earlier, talk of the Opposition parties contesting under a big tent concept in the general election came to nought when Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) pushed aside the idea.
Besides not trusting Mahathir, PKR's new deputy president Rafizi Ramli saw no advantage in the concept.
With some predicting GE will happen in October, which is just two months or so away, Mahathir may not have sufficient time to put together a solid and strong opposition to go head-on with Umno.
Issues that Mahathir raised — corruption and abuse of power — do not seem to have much traction with Umno supporters as can be seen by the way they rally and gather to give support to former Umno president and prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Given Mahathir’s latest move, the coming GE may see a clear racial divide as almost all Malay-based parties will target Malay voters and non-Malay parties will go for non-Malays.
Such a scenario may inevitably see racial issues being raised in election campaigns.