PETALING JAYA: Speculation is rife that Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin are at loggerheads over the direction the party is taking.
Rumours of a clash follow a recent report suggesting that Hamzah, the former home minister, is likely to be replaced by Perikatan Nasional as the opposition leader in Parliament.
According to the Malaysia Gazette, the coalition, which Muhyiddin leads, is mulling between Arau MP Shahidan Kassim and Ketereh MP Khlir Nor to succeed Hamzah.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Bersatu leader said Muhyiddin and Hamzah have been at loggerheads on the direction the party should take.
The source said the differences had to do with matters related to how PN and Bersatu ought to operate.
Such matters include the narrative it should adopt when opposing the government and which seats to vie for in the coming state polls.
“At the leadership and grassroots level, PAS and Bersatu share a strong bond.
“But some are not comfortable with the ‘green wave’ approach,” the source said, referring to the racial and religious approach taken by PAS.
“This is where Muhyiddin and Hamzah differ.”
He said most of the party’s top guns agree that Bersatu needs to strengthen its party machinery as it is being outshone by PAS.
Bersatu, however, cannot blame PAS as the Islamic party has managed itself well.
“We cannot be blamed either as we are only seven years old while PAS is over 60 years old.”
Speaking on the party’s future leadership, the source said neither Hamzah nor Azmin Ali, who also sits on the Supreme Council, can succeed Muhyiddin in the next party election due to a provision in its constitution.
The source said the constitution stipulates that those who want to vie for the party presidency, deputy presidency or vice-presidency must sit on the Supreme Council for at least two full terms.
“So, there can be no issue raised as to who between Hamzah or Azmin should lead, since that would require an amendment to the party’s constitution.”
Another source from Bersatu claims the Muhyiddin-Hamzah rift stems from Azmin’s role in the party.
Azmin, who is being groomed to be the party’s future “poster boy”, has been involved in some high-level discussions which have excluded Hamzah.
All decisions appear to be made by Muhyiddin’s advisers, the source claimed, adding that it is almost as though there is a “party within the party”.
These “president’s men”, as the source described them, have been around since Bersatu was formed and surround Muhyiddin so closely that they are making themselves indispensable to him.
“The new Bersatu leadership line-up, which is likely to be headed by Hamzah, should take over to sustain a strong political presence.
“Muhyiddin, however, wants Azmin,” said the source.
On Saturday, Muhyiddin placed the onus on Azmin, who is the Selangor PN chief, to wrest the state from Pakatan Harapan in the coming election.