JOHOR BARU, May 3 – The action by the top leadership of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) to sideline some of the party’s Johor division chiefs as candidates in the 14th General Election (GE14) has stirred feelings of disappointment and resentment among the group. This was admitted to by Johor PPBM Information Committee member Shukur Mohamad.
“Admittedly some division chiefs were disappointed at not being nominated. But they are not rejecting the party (PPBM). They just felt that they have been sidelined after working hard for over a year at their divisions,” he told Bernama here today. The state PPBM was reportedly thrown off balance recently when 15 disgruntled division chiefs openly expressed their frustration over the top leadership’s decision not to field them.
Only 11 out of 26 Johor PPBM division chiefs were nominated, of which four would contest in their own constituency while the other seven, elsewhere. Seventeen candidates that were nominated were not from among the division chiefs, which was what also fuelled the resentment.
Among the division chiefs who are contesting outside of their areas are Parit Sulong division chief Datuk Che Zakaria Mohd Salleh, as candidate for Pasir Gudang parliamentary constituency, Solihan Badri (Ledang), for Tenang state constituency, and Zais Mohd Akil (Johor Bahru), for Semarang state constituency.
Among those contesting in their own area are Mazlan Bujang (Tebrau), for Puteri Wangsa state constituency, and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (Pagoh), for Pagoh parliamentary constituency and Gambir state constituency. Shukur said he also had expressed his dissatisfaction on the matter and was of the opinion that the party’s top leaders had made a blunder in the selection of candidates.
“The issue was looming for two weeks, but I have come to accept the top leadership’s decision as a party strategy. I believe the issue has been resolved as the disgruntled division chiefs can already be seen going to the ground and helping the candidates to campaign,” he said, adding that he had met the division chiefs involved and appeased them as instructed by PPBM chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“It’s natural for humans to want to compete, it hurts when you are not chosen, more so when the candidate who has been nominated instead of you is an ‘outsider’. Nevertheless, like it or not, we have to accept it for the sake of the party,” he added. Former Kluang PPBM coordinator Arjuna Putra Ali was of the opinion that the party’s top leadership should have chosen candidates based on the demographic factor and not bring in outside candidates.
Arjuna Putra who had previously urged the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to revoke PPBM’s registration if the party was indeed a ‘problematic’ party and did not comply with the rules and regulations, said that the party would be led to ruin if cronyism and nepotism persist in the party.
“As a PPBM member with locus standi, of course, I felt very angry and dismayed with the conflict that is happening in the party. I was among the early founding members of PPBM which began from the movement by Gabungan Anak Muda Melayu Bersatu (GAMB) and Gabungan Ketua Cawangan Malaysia (GKCM).”
Meanwhile, a political analyst and lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, faculty of management Assoc Prof Dr Kassim Thukiman, said PPBM must accept the fact that as a new party, most of its leaders would naturally be interested and lobbying to become candidates.
“As a new party, it does not have sufficient time to select the best candidates. There are several hot seat areas such as Pasir Gudang, Mersing and Sri Gading and several leaders from other divisions had also moved to other areas,” he said when contacted.
Kassim said in facing a major election, PPBM should take into account various factors such as leadership qualities, the acceptance of candidates in their areas other than manifesto as well as priority issues at the state and parliamentary levels which could spell a win or defeat for the candidate and party.
“PPBM needs to review the popularity and leadership qualities of the candidates. Evidently, the general election is a platform for the people to practice democracy in choosing the best leaders for Johor and Malaysia,” he added.
However, another political analyst, Dr Mohd Akbal Abdullah, who is a senior lecturer at the General Studies and Co-curriculum Centre, Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, was of the opinion that the move to not field local candidates by the top leadership of PPBM and Pakatan Harapan was a strategy deployed to win in GE14.
He said the strategy of placing young candidates such as PPBM Youth wing chief, Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman for the Muar parliamentary seat also showed that the opposition was aware of the need to have new blood rather than ‘recycled’ candidates in an area. — Bernama