Muhyiddin still needed at the helm due to factions, says Bersatu leader

A party source says Bersatu will ‘sink’ if contest is allowed for the top post this October.

(FMT) – Rifts within Bersatu which appear to have widened ahead of the party elections in October have forced Muhyiddin Yassin to continue setting aside his wish to retire from the top post, according to a source.

The party leader who did not wish to be identified said this was why the Bersatu Supreme Council meeting on June 7 had decided to retain Muhyiddin as president.

The source said it was no secret that there were factions within Bersatu, and that this might threaten the party’s and Perikatan Nasional (PN) chances in the 16th general election.

It is understood that these factions are centred around Supreme Council member Azmin Ali, secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin, and deputy president Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

“Muhyiddin wants to retire. He can let go (of the leadership) if his ‘children’ sort things out. (But) there are so many factions, he needs to ensure that the party does not disintegrate.

“Assuming the elections this time will be hotter, compromising to keep the presidency uncontested will provide balance and keep Bersatu’s internal divisions from becoming worse,” he said.

Hisommudin also said that Muhyiddin should stay at Bersatu’s helm to balance the scales within PN with PAS, which has a large number of seats.

“Bersatu has fewer seats than PAS, but has spearheaded PN by virtue of Muhyiddin’s strengths,” he said.

PAS won 43 parliamentary seats in the 15th general election while Bersatu won 30.

“If we allow contest for the number one post, Bersatu will sink. (The party members) will be too embarrassed to fight among themselves if (Muhyiddin) remains as president,” the source told FMT.

Muhyiddin, who has been president of Bersatu since its inception in 2016, said on Nov 23 last year that he would not defend his presidency.

He backtracked on his decision 24 hours later, saying his wife Noorainee Abdul Rahman had persuaded him to stay on for another term.

Meanwhile, Ilham Centre executive director Hisommudin Bakar said the party’s decision not to allow contest for its presidency was the best decision for the time being.