KUALA LUMPUR: Individuals friendly to the Barisan Nasional can now join the coalition as an associate member following a supreme council decision to amend the constitution to allow direct membership.
The coalition has also opened its doors to associations and non-governmental organisations to become “friends of Barisan” by becoming its affiliate members.
Under the existing practice, one must first be a member of a component party in the coalition to qualify as a Barisan member.
Prime Minister and Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the decision reflected the leaders’ efforts to make the coalition inclusive and open to all who shared and subscribed to Barisan’s spirit, concept and principles.
However, the direct members will not have the same rights and privileges as members of the Barisan component parties, he said after chairing the council meeting yesterday.
“The council will determine the rights and privileges of those who become associate members,” he said.
The move, however, is not a new concept as the Alliance (the predecessor of Barisan Nasional) had once offered direct membership under its Alliance direct membership organisation (Admo).
Political observers also recalled that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad allowed two candidates without a party to stand under the Barisan banner in the 1990s (both won – Datuk Billy Abit Joo in Hulu Rejang and Datuk Joseph Salang in Julau).
Najib said all decisions relating to direct membership into the Barisan would be made by the supreme council as a way to prevent anyone with ulterior motives from joining the coalition.
“This is because we need to consider the views of other component members for our decision to be unanimous in nature,” he said, adding that direct membership would take effect after the Barisan headquarters notified the Registrar of Society of the amendment.
Najib said those who left any Barisan party after the amendment was made could not return to the fold as an associate member.
He said those from the opposition parties could apply but the supreme council would have the final say on whether or not to accept them.
Najib said the constitutional amendment would also see the setting up of a Barisan Friends Club, to allow interested people to become friends of the coalition.
He added that a Kelab Rakan Muda BN would also be set up for youths who are not yet registered as voters and aged 18 to 21 as a platform to show their support towards the coalition.
He said details on direct membership would be announced at the Barisan convention next weekend.
With regards to Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Najib said it was the last meeting for him as MIC president.
“Datuk Seri Samy has been a loyal member of the Barisan for a long time.
“On behalf of the supreme council, I would like to thank him for his contributions.
“I believe he will continue to be with Barisan and would contribute in coming election campaigns,” Najib said.
The former Works Minister is set to be appointed the Government’s special envoy on infrastructure as part of a deal which will see him stepping down as MIC boss.
His new appointment, with ministerial status, is expected to take effect on Dec 1.
Deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel will be acting MIC president until the next party elections.
All component parties of the coalition were represented by their leaders at yesterday’s two-hour meeting at the Barisan secretariat in Menara Datuk Onn.
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