BERSATU has strayed from its struggle and is now facing an “existential crisis”, said party co-founder Akhramsyah Muamar Ubaidah Sanusi.
The Bersatu supreme council member said the party was formed to fight corruption but now has members who are only interested in enriching themselves.
“Bersatu is facing an existential crisis. Part of the problem now is that the leaders in particular have adopted the ‘apa aku dapat’ (what will I get) policy,” Akhramsyah told The Malaysian Insight.
The 47-year-old said some members have succumbed to “unsavoury” practices, including writing letters of support for positions and contracts which the party had opposed.
“Now this has become worse because a deputy minister has been accused of sending letters to the prime minister asking for positions.
“If this is the type of youth we want to attract, we will lose to Umno. Umno is long known for such practices as writing this kind of letters and has a track record for attracting this kind of young people,” he said.
He was referring to a viral video of Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal announcing he could write to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to grant getting Bersatu youth members jobs and positions.
Akhramsyah said the party abandoned its fundamental principles when it decided to work with Umno, which Bersatu had denounced as a “kleptocratic party” before the 2018 general election.
“We have sacrificed principles for power. The upshot of that is that we now rely on kleptocrats to remain in government. This trade-off is not sustainable.”
The son of former minister Sanusi Junid, Akhramsyah said the Perikatan Nasional partners have no respect for Bersatu, which has in turn caused the partty members to lose faith in the party leadership led by Muhyiddin Yassin.
Duty to truth
Akhramsyah said he is not afraid of being sacked from the party for speaking out as it is his duty to tell the truth to the members.
“As the leader and one of the founders of the party, it is incumbent upon me to explain the truth to the members. The truth about the formation of the party and the truth about where the party is now.
“The party’s ideals have not changed but current practices are not aligned to the ideals. There needs to be a correction,” he said.
Akhramsyah is seeking re-election to the Bersatu supreme council in the ongoing party polls and is touring the country to talk to the party members about the party’s original struggle.
Akhramsyah said he is not worried about being disciplined for his being truthful.
“If the party chooses to sack me for this, then clearly this is not the party I helped to set up.”
Bersatu is deeply divided following a split between founding chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad and president Muhyiddin over the party’s political alignment.Dr Mahathir had wished to remain in Pakatan Harapan but Muhyiddin had succeeded in pulling Bersatu out of the coalition
Muhyiddin joined forces with Barisan Nasional, PAS and GPS, seizing power from Pakatan Harapan to form the federal government.
Following a bitter struggle over control of Bersatu, Dr Mahathir’s faction found themselves sacked for supporting what had become the opposition.
With his legal challenge to his dismissal failing too, Dr Mahathir has formed a new Malay party called Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).
Several Bersatu leaders have since defected to join Pejuang.
Akhramsyah himself was spotted at the Pejuang event to announce its Slim by-election candidate earlier this week.
“I was at an event supportive of Dr Mahathir, who is still the chairman (of Bersatu). In fact I’m appalled that more Bersatu leaders were not there,”
Slim pickings for Dr Mahathir’s Pejuang in Felda settlements
Today’s topic was about Dr Mahathir and his new party Pejuang, which will contest the Slim by-election on August 29.
As he drew on his keretek cigarette, Azrai said he had no issues with Dr Mahathir personally.
Azrai, who is known as the “chicken king” of the five Felda settlements in Gunung Besout 1-5, said the new government knows how to give out money.
“I don’t get any cause I don’t qualify, but others here get the Bantuan Prihatin and other handouts,” said the retired soldier.
“And that means a lot, when Dr Mahathir didn’t,” said Azrai.
A former policeman who wanted to be called Pak Badul, also said he had no issues with Dr Mahathir.
“But there were so many unfulfilled promises when he led the previous government. It is his right to start a new party, but I don’t think it’s going to do very well here,” said the 63-year-old Felda settler.
He described the 95-year-old former prime minister as “too stingy” although his children were millionaires.
When asked to compare Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin with Dr Mahathir, Pak Badul had very little to say apart that he often heard Muhyiddin recite a prayer for the country during the Covid-19 lockdown.
But he believes that the Perikatan Nasional government, consisting of Barisan Nasional, Bersatu and PAS, has done a lot for the oil palm price since taking over in March.
“The price of sawit (oil palm) has gone up since Perikatan Nasional took over.”
A check on the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) website, however, showed that the local prices for crude palm oil was RM3,014 in January and has now fallen to RM2,519 in July. Local CPO prices were lowest in May at RM2,074.
But like many Felda settlers, Pak Badul believes that his finances have improved after the takeover in March.
Pak Badul’s sentiments are not unusual as more than half a dozen other Felda settlers gave the same arguments about why they would go with the Barisan Nasional candidate on polling day.
More than half of the votes cast in the 2018 elections in Slim were from seven Felda settlements, at 57%, or 10,587, of the total votes (18,574) cast.
Of that, 51.1% of settlers picked BN while 29.2% voted for PAS. Pakatan Harapan, which fielded Bersatu’s Mohd Amran Ibrahim, could only win 19.5% of the votes from Felda.
In 2018, there were 23,377 voters in Slim, comprising 75% Malays, 10% Chinese and 13% Indians. The Election Commission said the Slim by-election will have 23,094 voters comprising 22,815 regular voters, 277 early voters and two overseas voters.
BN’s Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib won the elections in 2018 with 8,327 voters, with 65% of his votes coming from Felda voters.
In the northern Felda area of Trolak Utara, retired settler Idris Hussein sighed as he watched the rain.
He didn’t like what was happening with the country’s politicians.
“Too much hopping here and there. There’s very little integrity left in politics,” said Idris on the fall of Kedah, Perak, Malacca, Johor and the almost collapse of Sabah.
“What Muhyiddin did to Dr Mahathir was also ‘tak sedap’ (not good).
“But the new government has been dishing out money. And that goes a long way in these parts,” said the 70-year-old.
The nomination for the by-election is today. BN has announced its acting Tanjung Malim Umno chief Mohd Zaidi Aziz, 43, as its candidate to defend the state seat.
Lawyer Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi, 38, is the candidate backed by Dr Mahathir.
Amir will contest as an Independent as Pejuang is yet to be registered.
The Slim by-election is held following the death of Khusairi on July 15.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT