Bersatu Youth labelled ‘Mat Rempits in suits’, new book reveals

Their refusal to follow protocol alienated members of the civil service, Romen Bose says in ‘Shattered Hopes’.

(FMT) -The tendency of young Bersatu members to “ride roughshod” over government protocol after Pakatan Harapan took over the reins of government “alienated” the civil service, earning them the monicker “Mat Rempits in suits”, a soon-to-be launched new book claims.

“Mat Rempit” is a colloquial term popularly used to refer to Malay youth who take part in illegal street racing.

In his book “Shattered Hopes”, author Romen Bose claims members of the civil service did not take too kindly to the conduct of several members from Armada, the Bersatu youth wing.

“Government servants were reluctant to approve (their) projects and some didn’t process the paperwork or payments, even though instructions had come down from the minister’s office,” Bose wrote in the book which delves into what happened behind-the-scenes in Putrajaya between 2018 and 2020.

Quoting sources, the author, a former aide of Najib Razak, said Bersatu members had been subjected to a miniscule budget in the lead up to the 2018 general election (GE14).

“Bersatu and its various wings had survived on a budget of RM200,000 since its inception in 2016, and RM150,000 of that money had come from crowdfunding.

“All party leaders and their candidates had to use their own money to pay for political and election expenses, and many stayed at their friend’s houses during campaigning to save cost,” Bose wrote.

However, their new-found “political influence and power” following GE14 saw Armada members behaving differently, the book claims. “They were trying to ride roughshod over existing procedures, systems and SOPs in the ministries.”

“Even party members felt that PKR and DAP’s youth wings were much more professional and had many more well-educated professionals compared to Armada, with many referring to Bersatu as ‘Umno 2.0’,” Bose said.

Lack of capable leaders in Bersatu

Bose also said that Bersatu was bedevilled by leadership issues.

“Bersatu members were fully aware that the then 93-year-old Mahathir was the party’s only hope (at least at that time) for staying in power,” he wrote, particularly with Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin reportedly recovering from illness.

“Most of Bersatu’s senior leadership were also former Umno members who had resigned or were thrown out or dismissed from the party for unprofessionalism or violating party discipline,” he said.

“With the exception of Mahathir, his son Mukhriz, (then Armada chief) Syed Saddiq (Syed Abdul Rahman), and to some extent Muhyiddin, the party did not have any strong senior leaders who could engage the foreign or local media easily in English, nor were they able to debate very well, unlike DAP and Amanah.”

There was also a “serious lack of young women leaders” in the party, Bose said, adding that many were “sidelined and not taken seriously”.

The book claims that Syed Saddiq had asked Mahathir to consider integrating the women’s youth wing with Armada to prevent them from leaving.

“The issue was never resolved.”