Umno Supreme Council member Zahidi Zainul Abidin today confirmed that Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates for the 15th general election (GE15) would have to sign statutory declarations (SDs), amid expectations that several big names seen as out of line with party president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will be dropped at the polls.
"Yes, it's true, we must sign SDs," he said to MalaysiaNow.
"I don't know what the SDs are for. Perhaps in support of Zahid as prime minister. Or maybe the SDs are to ensure that they follow and are loyal to his every instruction."
Zahidi, who himself is on the list of leaders to be excluded from running at the Nov 19 polls, also said that he had not been invited to the ceremony to announce BN's candidates at the World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur tonight.
Aside from Zahidi, the Padang Besar incumbent and deputy communications and multimedia minister, others on the list are Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa, Federal Territories Minister Shahidan Kassim, and Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Dr Adham Baba.
In dropping these leaders from the election line-up, Zahid is seen as consolidating his position in the party.
The move also appears to be part of efforts to eliminate the influence of the so-called ministers cluster who have sided with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Shahidan, who had earlier received word that he would not be fielded to defend his Arau seat, announced last night that the BN election machinery had already ceased operations in the constituency.
Annuar meanwhile today hinted at the possibility of contesting on another party ticket in order to defend his Ketereh seat.
Ismail, who had come under heavy pressure to hold a snap election this year, will go down in history as Malaysia's shortest serving prime minister if he does not continue his term after the election.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow on condition of anonymity, a Selangor Umno chief also said that BN candidates would have to sign SDs prepared by Zahid.
"That is correct," he said. "We have to kiss Zahid's feet before we can become candidates."