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10 APRIL 2024

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Mat Sabu 'relaxed' on prospect of being challenged

INTERVIEW | Two-term Amanah president Mohamad Sabu has welcomed potential challengers in the upcoming party polls.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, Mohamad said the choice of the next president was up to the wisdom of the 27-member leadership committee which will be elected in December.

Under party rules, Mohamad is eligible for a third consecutive term. He co-founded the party in 2015 and has been its leader since.

It is believed that efforts are underway to oust Mohamad and install a new leader capable of attracting fresh members.

The 69-year-old enjoyed a meteoric rise when he was in PAS but reached his ceiling in the early 2010s as the party's deputy president.

He and his allies were ousted from the Islamist party leadership in the 2015 party election, prompting them to form Amanah.

High stakes

Unlike most political parties, Amanah's national leadership is not chosen directly by the members. Instead, they elect a 27-member leadership committee, which in turn decides on leadership positions.

Mohamad said that anyone could offer themselves as party president because Amanah practises democracy.

“Regardless of whether I feel pressured, if there are challengers, they will go ahead. So it's better that I stay relaxed and leave it to the delegates,” he added.

Mohamad was also coy when asked if he would actively campaign to be retained as the Amanah president.

The Amanah leadership race is a high-stakes one as those with higher positions have a better chance of landing a post on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's cabinet.

In December last year, Anwar chose two Amanah leaders - including Mohamad - as cabinet members and another two as deputy ministers.

Membership woes

Mohamad said he accepted criticism from the grassroots regarding his leadership and the party's perceived lack of traction.

Conceding that it was difficult to attract new followers, Mohamad said a large party membership was not a determinant of a political party's relevance.

“Umno claims to have three million members yet sometimes, they do not vote for their own parties.

“Although membership is important, it is not a measure of a party's influence,” he added.

Apart from the two cabinet members and two deputy minister positions, Amanah has three Dewan Negara members and a disproportionately large number of political appointees heading government-linked companies and government agencies.

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