According to PKR chief of Sabah and Sarawak, Dr Jeffrey Kittingan, Mahathir had his regrets.
"After I was released from detention (under the Internal Security Act), I was brought to his ( Mahathir's) office.
"During our conversation, he told me he actually regretted bringing Umno to Sabah, because its leaders only cared about themselves and not the party," said Jeffrey.
Jeffrey said he had asked Mahathir why was it so difficult to disband the party in Sabah, and Mahathir told him he could not do so because of "maruah (pride)".
"Since Mahathir cannot take Umno back to the Peninsula, the people of Sabah should send Umno back to the Peninsula," said Jeffrey when officiating at the opening of PKR Kota Kinabalu division AGM at its office here. Also present were PKR Sabah chairman Ahmad Thamrin and deputy president-cum-Kota Kinabalu division chief Christina Liew.
The opposition leader, whose brother Joseph Pairin Kittingan is Sabah deputy chief minister, called on Sabahans to give Pakatan Rakyat the next five-year mandate to help change the fate of Sabah.
"After so many years and until today, even after PBS (Parti Bersatu Sabah) rejoined the Barisan Nasional, nothing has changed," he said.
He recalled that Pairin had told him once that the purpose of joining the BN was so "it would be easier for us to solve all problems like the illegal immigrants, poverty and so on".
"He told me this then. But after so many years, have they solved the illegal immigrant problem … the poverty problem?
"Poverty has become even bigger. Sabah is now the second poorest state in the country with the largest poorest population.
"Recently there was a news report quoting a state deputy chief minister as saying the poverty rate in Sabah has dropped by 7%. Do you believe this?
"If all the prices of goods have increased but the salary remains the same, is this possible? There are actually more poor people in Sabah now than the last two years."
He said despite a whole series of operations against illegal immigrants, nothing has actually changed and the problem remained unsolved.
Even the increase in allocations from the federal government to Sabah from RM2.7 billion to RM20 billion has made little difference, he said.
"What do we see from this (RM20 billion)? Maybe we see a little bit (development) here and there but the question is, where did the money go… I believe you all know where," he said.
He said if the opposition parties did not keep a careful watch "I believe all the development allocation would go into the pockets of the Barisan Nasional leaders".
"So we need to take away the Barisan Nasional fixed deposit because we do not actually gain any 'interest' from it... transfer the fixed deposit to Pakatan Rakyat and you will get your rightful 'interest'," he said.