Umno-like to allow postponement of PPBM polls, says analyst

PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrives for the party’s extraordinary general meeting yesterday.

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst says PPBM’s move to allow for the postponement of party polls by 18 months through an amendment in its constitution is Umno-like.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Kamarul Zaman Yusoff said this was ironic because PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad had said yesterday the party must be careful not to go down Umno’s path.

“The postponement of party polls is a trademark of Umno and contributed to the party’s current predicament,” he said, adding that it was “not a good move” for PPBM.

Kamarul said the postponement of party polls stopped grassroot members from “taking action” against party leaders they disagreed with and could lead to unhappiness among them.

He was commenting on PPBM’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) yesterday where members agreed to amend its constitution to allow party elections to be postponed for up to 18 months.

Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Kamarul Zaman Yusoff.

The PPBM delegates also agreed to adopt a two-tier voting system, with one-man-one-vote for ordinary members to elect branch and divisional leaders, and a delegate voting system for the party’s top leadership.

On the one-man-one-vote system, Kamarul said PPBM had made the right move in limiting it to branch and division-level polls.

“This is their first party election and since their chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the prime minister, they cannot afford a mess like what happened during PKR’s party polls.”

Last year, PKR’s election made headlines with scuffles, technical glitches and allegations of cheating.

“They need stability, the one-man-one-vote system, if not done properly, can be problematic and lead to bad blood as we saw in the PKR election,” he said.

Wong Chin Huat, who is with the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia, said the postponement of party polls was a common practice to delay political rivalry.

“The 18-month timing suggests consideration has been given to ensure PPBM’s cohesion after the transition of power from Mahathir to the next PM, whoever he may be,” he said.

Wong said the delegate voting system for the party’s top leadership, however, may enable resource-rich leaders to build factions by co-opting delegates.

Direct elections, like the one-man-one-vote system, he said, was less susceptible to patronage as it was difficult to buy votes from hundreds of thousands rather than thousands of delegates.

Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0, meanwhile, said the two-tier voting system may encourage the “buying” of delegates by candidates.

“This creates a culture of corruption that is not confined within the party but carried over to government when these parties are also the ruling parties,” Bersih chairman Thomas Fann told FMT.

He said anti-corruption initiatives must also be taken by political parties and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as intra-party corruption could lead to corruption at the national level.

He also said Bersih would welcome PPBM or any party that wanted to consult them on ways to improve their party election process.