PUTRAJAYA, 4 April 2009: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today rejoined Umno after having resigned from the party almost a year ago.
The former Umno president handed his application form and the RM2 membership fee to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at Sri Satria, the official residence of the deputy prime minister here, at noon.
After that, Mahathir’s wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, and their son Datuk Mokhzani also handed their forms and fees to Najib.
Najib expressed his thanks to Mahathir for having returned to Umno to continue with the party’s struggle.
“I believe Tun Dr Mahathir’s return will provide a strong impetus to Umno and can help in the rejuvenation of Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN),” Najib told reporters.
He said that as a statesperson, Mahathir could play a meaningful role in helping to restore the people’s confidence in Umno and the BN.
Najib, who is Umno president, also welcomed the return to Umno of Siti Hasmah, saying her services to the party and the country could surely be of assistance to the role of women in the future.
Mahathir had resigned from Umno on 19 May last year, saying he had lost confidence in the party which he had led for 22 years.
“Although I was out of Umno, my heart and soul were in Umno,” said Mahathir, adding that the criticisms he hurled at the party were with the intention to strengthen it and not destroy it.
Asked about him having rejoined Umno previously during the era of second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and rejoining now during the era of Tun Razak’s son, Najib, as the sixth prime minister, Dr Mahathir said: “That family link was not something intended.”
Mahathir was expelled from Umno on 26 Sept 1969 during the era of first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman for having criticised the party leadership.
Tun Razak had welcomed Mahathir’s return to Umno in 1972.
Two other children of Mahathir — Datuk Mukhriz and Datuk Mirzan – were also present at today’s function.
Asked what role he would play in the party now, Mahathir said he believed that a leader should help Umno after he has retired and not isolate himself from the party after retirement.
On him taking up possible posts in Umno or the government, Mahathir said positions were unnecessary and added that he was prepared to give his views if necessary.
Asked about the impact of Mahathir’s return to Umno on the by-elections in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau, Najib said he believed it would have a positive effect which would be well received by Umno members.
Najib said this was evident at the Umno general assembly on 28 March when party delegates gave a resounding welcome when Mahathir made a surprise entry at the gathering.
Mahathir said the biggest challenge for Umno now was to revive the image of the party which had taken a beating in the last few years.
Asked whether he would continue to be vocal during Najib’s administration just as he had been during former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration, Mahathir said: “I was critical whenever Umno went wrong.”
At the handing over of the Umno application forms, Mokhzani had forgotten to attach the RM2 membership fee.
When asked by Najib, Mokhzani found he had no small change and Mukhriz came up with the money, causing Mahathir to remark “This is money politics”, which left everyone present in stitches. — Bernama