Zahid: Early announcement of candidates to prevent internal sabotage

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says the practice of announcing candidates only a few days before nomination is not suitable for GE14. (Reuters pic)

CYBERJAYA: Barisan Nasional (BN)’s decision to name its candidates for the 14th general election (GE14) ahead of time was meant to prevent any sabotage to the party and the candidates selected, says Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Zahid, who is also BN deputy chairman, said the “out of the box” move by Prime Minister Najib Razak as BN chairman would give more time for the party leadership to “appease” those who were not selected as candidates.

“Thus, it can avoid any element of sabotage that usually happens when influential people are not nominated, or influencing the party machinery from boycotting the election campaign currently being carried out,” he said at a press conference here today.

At a media conference with Malaysian journalists in Sydney yesterday, Najib said BN might announce its candidates for GE14 much earlier compared to only two or three days before the nominations as has been the practice so far.

Zahid said based on previous experience, the practice of announcing the candidates a day before nomination was not suitable for GE14 or subsequent elections.

He added that the selection of candidates was made after a comprehensive study of the individuals nominated by party grassroots, divisions and the respective states.

He said the studies involved three important factors: awareness about a candidate in a particular area, the level of acceptance by the constituents and the candidates’ ability to win the election.

“The study was not done randomly.

“If a particular state or parliamentary constituency has no candidate that is acceptable, we will make a second selection,” he said, adding that the power to change the candidate was Najib’s absolute right.

On his statement yesterday that he was prepared to retire from politics earlier as well, Zahid, who is also the Bagan Datuk MP, joked that GE14 would be his last election if he was no longer chosen by Najib after that.

“If I am still needed by the voters in Bagan Datuk, I will retire before the age of 93.”