Amid clashes with Umno, deputy youth and sports minister touts Bersatu as ‘most progressive’ Malay party

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal speaks to reporters during a press conference in Putrajaya July 8, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal speaks to reporters during a press conference in Putrajaya July 8, 2020. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Being the youngest out of three Malay parties in the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) is not a political handicap to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), according to its senator Wan Ahmad Fayhsal Wan Ahmad Kamal.

In an interview with news portal Malaysiakini and weekly podcast show Bicara Minggu Ini published today, the deputy youth and sports minister said Bersatu’s relative youthfulness — the party was founded in 2016 — is an advantage compared to PN’s two other older Malay parties, Umno and PAS.

“We are the most progressive thus far among all the Malay parties.

“We are more nimble, we are more flexible, and we are more open. As you can see, like myself, even a Bersatu youth (member) can become the chief of party divisions in certain places,” he was quoted by Malaysiakini as saying in the interview.

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal, who is aiming to be the next Bersatu youth chief, added that being a young party has also kept it out of legacy issues and controversies.

He sees this as helping to burnish the party’s “progressive” credentials.

“And I believe this would create more positive vibes for Malay youths especially to join us so we can become an alternative for the constituents,” he was quoted as saying.

Wan Fayhsal claimed Bersatu’s very name appeals to a wider Malaysian audience than the Malay demographic group that is often the voter target of its PN co-affiliates Umno and PAS.

“Even in Sabah and Sarawak, we have members and leaders among the Kadazan Dusun ethnic, among the Bumiputera there. So they are not being treated as second-class leaders in Bersatu.

“So in that sense, we are more open, more tolerant of various views and positions. And we hope by having this kind of character, we can entice more youths especially in urban areas to be with us,” he was quoted saying.

On Bersatu’s relationship between Umno within the coalition, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal accepted that the realities on the ground that Umno must be dealt with following Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s conviction in the latter’s SRC International trial.

He also disclosed that many Bersatu members were surprised when Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that his party would not formally join PN.

On July 30, Umno snubbed PN in favour of Muafakat Nasional with PAS and the rest of Barisan Nasional (BN).

Wan Ahmad Fayhsal said there was now a need to build a broader coalition after having achieved the group’s Malay unity objective.

“It depends on the objective of the coalition. If the coalition targets to unite all Malays or Bumiputera, I think either Muafakat Nasional or PN, we have achieved that. And what we want to do next is basically to be more inclusive, regionally speaking.

“Because if you noticed, Muafakat Nasional is pretty much peninsula-centric. By having PN onboard, or as a larger umbrella, I think we can be more inclusive with smaller component parties in Sabah and Sarawak.

“I think that’s what we are aiming for. To show Malaysians that we can be a coalition that can be an umbrella for everyone,” Wan Ahmad Fayhsal was quoted saying.

He was upbeat that the PN government will not repeat the mistakes of the Pakatan Harapan administration where party leaders publicly quarrelled with their coalition allies.

Despite the current clashes between Bersatu and Umno, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal proclaimed that PN is moving in the right direction under his party president and Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s leadership.  

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