Ministerial and other political appointments for Umno leaders were part of a plan to grow Bersatu by enticing them to defect, claimed Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

He said this was revealed by Bersatu’s top leadership as it sought to assure party leaders that Bersatu will not be marginalised within the Perikatan Nasional coalition and has a plan to eventually become dominant.

The plan called for certain Umno lawmakers to be given appointments in the cabinet and government-linked companies – those who are not hardcore Umno supporters or are close to the Bersatu leadership, who can be enticed to defect.

“That’s why GLC appointments were given to several Umno political figures. Ministers were also chosen from among those who may be quite close to the Bersatu leadership. But to date, that is not happening.

“That’s why I think these questions should be answered by the party leadership and Umno leadership so that people would know and make their own judgement,” Syed Saddiq (above) said during a talk show streamed on his Facebook page last night.

The talk was moderated by Bersatu Youth information chief Ulya Aqamah Husamudin and was also joined by Bersatu supreme council member Maszlee Malik.

He was answering questions from Ulya, as well as following up on Maszlee’s explanation of how Bersatu would become marginalised and faces the prospect of a rout in the 15th general election.

According to a tally by Malaysiakini as of yesterday, only 13 out of 39 (33.33 percent) Umno parliamentarians have not yet been appointed as a minister, deputy minister, a GLC board member or given some other political appointment.

This is a larger proportion than Bersatu’s two out of 32 (6.25 percent) MPs without such appointments but the balance could still shift as more appointments are made.

Meanwhile, Syed Saddiq questioned whether there is an agreement between PN parties to avoid overlapping claims during the 15th general election.

He said Bersatu’s top leadership had assured that Umno and PAS would not contest in parliamentary and state assembly seats currently held by Bersatu representatives but his conversations with Umno leaders have revealed otherwise.

“I want to ask the Umno and PAS leadership whether such agreement had been made because we were briefed that there was already an agreement.

“I ask this because when I meet my friends in Umno and there are top leaders among them, they said it is inconceivable they would forgo Hamzah Zainudin’s (Tambun) seat that was previously Umno’s seat. There are 13 Umno MPs that joined Bersatu.

“They would not let go of the Gombak seat held by Azmin Ali, the Ampang seat under Zuraida Kamaruddin, or any other seats.

“Not only that, but they also won’t let go of the Muar and Simpang Renggam seats – all these are previously strategic seats for Umno and BN.

“But what we were briefed was that there is already an agreement. That’s why I want to ask them – is it true there was an agreement that Umno and PAS would not contest in any Bersatu-held seats, that 37 Bersatu MPs would contest without facing Umno or PAS?” he said.

He added that party leaders have also assured that PN will be a permanent coalition that will go into the next general election together, but recent developments have shown that other PN component parties see the coalition as a temporary entity.

Instead, he said the Muafakat Nasional pact between Umno and PAS appears to move as one.

Over half of Kedah division heads want Mahathir to helm Bersatu

Eight out of 15 Kedah Bersatu division leaders have signed a statement to pledge support for their embattled chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in the hope of trying to resolve the leadership crisis in the party.

Kedah Bersatu deputy chief Anuar Abdul Hamid said the division leaders have also pledged their unwavering support for ousted Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir as state Bersatu chairperson.

“The leadership of Mahathir and Mukhriz is valid at the state and federal level based on Bersatu’s party constitution, and this should not be disputed by any quarters,” Anuar told Malaysiakini.

He said the support and loyalty of the eight division leaders are “genuine”.

“It’s difficult, and it looks like we need to go back to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) or the court to settle our dispute,” he added.

In a statement, the eight leaders expressed regret with certain individuals in the party for going against Mahathir and Mukhriz.

“In their hurry to support party president and Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, these individual were willing to propose a motion to sack Mahathir as party chairperson and Mukhriz as head of Kedah,” the statement said.

“It must be reminded that at the height of the leadership crisis, Mahathir’s resignation had been rejected.”

After meeting with party leaders, the former premier had conceded to the appeals by the party to stay on as chairperson, it said.

“Mahathir should continue to lead Bersatu as chairperson, a post he defended without being challenged during the election of party leaders,” the leaders stressed.

The leaders condemned any move to sack Mahathir or Mukhriz from Bersatu as attempts to do so was “unethical and must be opposed”.

They urged their comrades to return to the original struggle of the party, which is sincerity and trustworthiness, and to respect the wishes of the grassroots, while upholding Bersatu’s constitution.

“We hope the crisis in the party can be resolved by going back to the board, by being upright and steadfast, in line with the party’s motto – trustworthiness (beramanah) and having dignity (bermaruah),” the leaders said.

“Only by rejecting betrayal, and returning to a struggle that has integrity and dignity, can Bersatu be respected and honoured by all Malaysians.”

Other than Anuar, those who signed the statement were division leaders from Kubang Pasu (Amiruddin Hamzah), Alor Setar (Mohamad Nuhairi Rahmat), Kulim-Bandar Bahru (Azimi Daim), Pokok Sena (Muhammad Amri Wahab), Jerlun (A Aziz Mohamud) and Langkawi (Shukor Bahari).

Yesterday, Bersatu Youth also rejected the ROS’ letter affirming Mahathir’s resignation as party chairperson.

The party’s Youth wing said Hamzah Zainudin (above), who issued the letter, is both the home minister and one of the people claiming to be Bersatu’s secretary-general, which clearly creates a “conflict of interest”.

The ROS is under the Home Ministry’s purview, and it had said that Muhyiddin is the acting chairperson until a new one is elected.

In February, Mahathir resigned as chairperson when the party insisted that Bersatu quit Pakatan Harapan to form Perikatan Nasional with Umno and PAS.

But Muhyiddin had convinced him to remain and announced Mahathir would continue in that position.

Muhyiddin then became prime minister in March after Harapan failed to form a majority among MPs, leading to a breakdown in the relations between him and Mahathir.

Bersatu was supposed to hold internal party polls in April but this was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.