Those who aspire to be Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates for the 14th General Election (GE14) better be prepared to meet the criteria set by a new and tough vetting system.
Candidates will be picked or dropped solely based on merits, not through lobbying.
The system was used so effectively to pick BN candidates for Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections, and the Sarawak state poll.
BN national chairman Najib Razak said the new methodology had passed the test as the coalition won Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, and retained Sarawak government in May with thumping majorities.
So far the candidate vetting system has been tested largely on Umno, but Najib said the method would now be expanded for other component parties in the coalition as well.
Under the new system, candidature aspirants, who failed to meet even minimum criteria, would not be considered at all.
“That makes it easier for me as president of the party. If they didn’t pass, it is not because of me but because of merit.
“There is nothing I can do, they have to accept the fact that they lost.
“It is like entering university. You must have a minimum of 2A’s or 2B’s. If you only have 2C’s you cannot get in,” said Najib, also the prime minister and Umno president.
The Star reported that several component party leaders failed to qualify during the trial run of the new screening system.
Najib said that Barisan did not have an objective method to select candidates in the last general election.
“When I came up with the principle of winnable candidates, many considered themselves as winnable when in fact they are not,” he said.
Najib said he would try to accommodate demands from the divisions for local candidates but they would also have to go through the vetting process.
The race to become election candidates is very intense in Barisan and unsuccessful candidates have been known to resort to sabotage.
“But what they have to realise is that the final choice is with the leadership and that has always been the case,” said Najib.
It’s learnt that a component party allotted a particular federal or state constituency under BN seat formula, had been told submit at least five names of potential candidates for the coalition leadership to vet and choose.
Asked about possible changes of mentris besar, Najib said he was keeping his options open, adding that he needed to look at the micro aspects of each state in order to strike a balance between change and stability.
There has been speculation that four states may have a new mentri besar before the general election.
“I think it’s only fair that I do not say yes or no, but it will be what is best for the states in question.”
On whether the general election will be in the first or second half of 2017, he said: “Not necessarily, it can be later. I’m enjoying this speculation. Let people go on speculating.”