KUALA LUMPUR – August 10, 2016: The dual membership scheme of the new Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) is already creating confusion among Malaysians, just a day after it was announced.
Political analysts who talked to The Mole were unsure in anticipating f Bersatu’s membership segregation will be a boon or bane for the party.
Dr. Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia thinks that the scheme will put Bersatu at a disadvantage against the more established political parties.
“I don’t see any reason for non-Bumis and non-Malays to join a party where they have no voice in running the party,” said Azmi.
At a press conference yesterday, Bersatu pro-tem president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that non-Bumiputras and non-Malays who join the party will be categorised as associate members.
An associate member, as Muhyiddin put it, cannot vote and contest in any party election but can be appointed to a leadership position.
“This party is not exclusive to any specific state. This is a party for all Malaysians,” Muhyiddin said after he had submitted Bersatu’s application at the Registrar of Societies.
By allowing this, Azmi feels that Bersatu has cast away its potential to attract people who are not affiliated with Umno.
He is not the only one holding this view.
A Chinese political analyst, via an online news portal, slammed Bersatu for giving second-class status to non-Bumis.
The report however was removed by the portal earlier this morning.
Interestingly, Azmi speculated that the very fact there is such a scheme suggests that there are two factions within the Bersatu pro-tem committee.
“I think the main reason the scheme is introduced is to satisfy certain individuals in the committee who would like to see Bersatu as neutral in terms of race.
“But again it seems that the pro-tem members who want to see Bersatu as a spoiler to Umno have won the day,” he said in reference to Bersatu’s seemingly limited participation policy for associate members.
But Universiti Utara Malaysia associate professor Dr. Mohd. Azizudin Md. Sani does not think that the scheme is bad for Bersatu.
He pointed out that such a scheme is not new because even PAS has something identical.
“Pas has done it before and is still doing it,” said Azizudin, “In fact; some of its non-Muslim associate members have even been fielded during the previous general election.”
In the 2013 general election, the Islamist PAS put up non-Muslim associate members Hu Pang Chaw and Raj Munni Sabu in Ayer Hitam and Jelebu respectively.
Azizudin’s other argument is that through such a scheme Bersatu can claim to be a multiracial party, unlike Umno.
“If an Islamist party like PAS can attract non-Muslims, I don’t see why Bersatu cannot do the same.”