MORE than half of Bersatu’s candidates in the 14th general election will be first-timers and a third of them will be youth below 35, the opposition party’s Youth (Armada) chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said.
At least 30% of the party’s candidates will be young people, he told The Malaysian Insight in an interview at the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya recently.
“All indicators have shown that the electorate prefers a first-time candidate who is clean and who will govern with integrity,” said Syed Saddiq.
“Even if a person is not a state youth chief or executive council member but just a normal youth member, he will still be given a chance.”
Youth form about 57% of Bersatu’s more than 200,000 members. The party is in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition together with PKR, DAP and Amanah.
The move by Bersatu comes as surveys show that youth are reluctant to vote because of distrust towards politicians and a sense of helplessness over the state of politics in the country.
Many are also undecided about which party to vote for, while voter-registration drives aimed at youth have seen a slow uptake.
PH aims to finalise its list of candidates by the end of January, while it expects to complete all seat negotiations between the four parties by year-end, he said.
So far, more than 90% of seat allocations have been completed.
“I was informed we’ve made immense progress compared with the previous elections, when seat discussions were still ongoing even after Parliament was dissolved.”
The 25-year-old from Pulai, Johor, declined to reveal if the party has asked him to stand in GE14, which must be held by next August.
Syed Saddiq also disclosed some details of the PH’s common manifesto, including independence for enforcement agencies, the media and universities.
The manifesto will be fleshed out at PH’s national convention next month, said the Armada chief, who is part of the team drafting it.
“(Bersatu chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad) has said that students will be given the freedom (to participate in politics), while the media will be liberated. He says that in every ceramah.
“We have also agreed to limit the prime minister’s term, and that the prime minister will not be the finance minister.”
He said the proposal to limit the power of the executive to combat corruption has received good feedback.
PH released an anti-corruption manifesto on October 31, in which it pledged to make the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the appointment of the attorney-general fully independent.
Among the measures proposed include making the MACC answerable to Parliament, giving it the power to prosecute, and removing the graft-buster’s budget from the Prime Minister’s Office.
It also promised to revamp the political funding system, including to ensure donations are paid to political parties, not individuals.
Other proposals include a cap on each donor’s contributions to a maximum of RM200,000 per year, and for political parties to be subjected to an annual audit.
It also pledged to abolish direct negotiations for all government supply contracts.
Syed Saddiq said he would also push for the Universities and University Colleges Act to be overhauled or replaced to restore academic freedom.
The top debater, a three-time winner of the Asian British Parliamentary Debating Championship’s Asia’s best speaker award, was banned from speaking at three public universities last year, after he joined Bersatu.