Bersatu grassroots want change to ‘top 5’ candidate rule, says source

The source says grassroots members want the requirement limiting the candidacy for the top five party positions lifted.

(FMT) – Bersatu’s defeat in the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election last weekend has sparked discussions on a change in candidacy requirements for its top five positions, according to party sources.

The Bersatu constitution states that only those who have been on the Supreme Council for at least two terms are allowed to contest the top five posts.

But party insiders who spoke to FMT said the grassroots were challenging this rule, in a bid to ensure the party’s continuity ahead of the 16th general election (GE16).

One source said the current conditions for contesting the top five positions might hinder capable leaders from running in future elections.

“It is understood that this proposal will be brought up at the coming Supreme Council meeting. The council has the power to drop this requirement without needing an extraordinary general meeting,” the source said.

“This matter was previously raised, but encountered resistance from leaders in the top five.”

The source added that arrangements had been made by a handful of Bersatu leaders regarding the party’s direction and positions, including that of secretary-general which is currently held by opposition leader Hamzah Zainudin.

The source claimed that some had even travelled around the country to “campaign” for their team ahead of the party polls.

“It is likely that Muhyiddin will win uncontested as he faces no challengers,” the source said, referring to Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin.

“However, he is expected to step down after a year to facilitate the transition of power to a new leader.

“So some are eyeing the position of acting president, given its scope of power to determine the party’s trajectory – including the selection of candidates for GE16.”

At Bersatu’s annual general assembly last November, Muhyiddin said that he would not defend his post, leading to speculation that Hamzah would succeed him. However, the former prime minister later backtracked on his decision.

Muhyiddin is expected to retain the Bersatu presidency uncontested in the coming party elections.

But the source said that many members did not want the elections “controlled” by certain leaders to the point of weakening the party if the contest is not opened to all.

“If this rule is changed, many people might be interested in running for positions from the deputy president onwards.

“They won’t challenge Muhyiddin,” the source said, adding that this might include Hamzah.

“In an interview with FMT, Hamzah said he was just waiting for Muhyiddin’s ‘green light’. Perhaps that’s what he means – changing the candidacy requirements for the top five positions.”

Bersatu is expected to hold elections for its Supreme Council and division leaders this year after having postponed them for 18 months, with the posts of president and deputy president considered the “hot seats”.

The Bersatu president is likely to be Perikatan Nasional’s prime ministerial candidate in GE16.