Three things we learnt from: The PPBM annual assembly

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is seen during their first annual general meeting in Putrajaya December 29, 2018. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is seen during their first annual general meeting in Putrajaya December 29, 2018. ― Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s (PPBM) second annual general meeting (AGM) was a mixed bag of sentiments.

The party tried to distance itself from its latent Umno links, but faced an uphill task as the latter’s mindset and attitudes are still palpable in the PPBM rank-and-file that largely hailed from Umno.

PPBM is the youngest in the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition and has only 13 parliamentary seats to its name, but it is intent on replacing Umno as the mainstay of local politics.

It is not yet clear if it will achieve this aim but here are the three things Malay Mail learned from covering the assembly.

Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman speaks at the party’s second annual grand meeting in Putrajaya December 30,2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman speaks at the party’s second annual grand meeting in Putrajaya December 30,2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

1. Umno roots still strong

You can take the man out of Umno but you cannot take the Umno out of the man, as events at the AGM showed.

While PPBM leaders and members openly rejected Umno, they had no issue calling for the same patronage that the Malay nationalist party is notorious for.

This was made clear when PPBM vice-president Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman told the government to ensure division chiefs be given government contracts as they needed to fund their political activities.

A former Election Commission chairman and the head of the Electoral Reforms Committee, Abdul Rashid also told his party that it must win elections “by hook or by crook”.

His remarks were met with rousing cheers by PPBM members but is causing concern among PH allies and groups such as Bersih 2.0.

Armada leader Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya December 29, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana
Armada leader Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya December 29, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

2. Armada showing wisdom beyond its years

PPBM’s youth wing, Armada, emerged as the voice of conscience and sought to remind the party of its duty towards reforms and inclusivity.

Armada chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman took direct aim at a delegate who purportedly criticised a PPBM minister for refusing to hand him a contract.

An emotional Syed Saddiq told the party that such behaviour would invite the attention of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and asked them to find their dignity, drawing applause from his wing’s members.

The country’s youngest minister is an outspoken proponent of reform, but based on remarks by Abdul Rashid, Armada will have to start its efforts with PPBM first.

(from left) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir at the conclusion of PPBM’s second annual grand meeting in Putrajaya December 30, 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
(from left) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir at the conclusion of PPBM’s second annual grand meeting in Putrajaya December 30, 2018. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

3. Fear of the unknown

At the assembly, delegates again called for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to serve out his full term as prime minister, forcing him to reiterate that he will not and to explain why his stint must be shortened.

The call was couched as a desire to see Dr Mahathir see out his intended reforms but it was likely motivated by fears of what might happen when he steps down as prime minister.

While PPBM and PH have managed to depose both Umno and Barisan Nasional, Dr Mahathir’s party is now shoring itself up against a possible challenge from allied parties.

There is uncertainty about the future of the party and its members once Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim becomes prime minister.

The concern is understandable as PPBM faces competition for the support of the Malay community from both Amanah and Anwar’s PKR, which is already the best represented party in Parliament.

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