PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Umno and most of the Barisan Nasional component parties have submitted a shortlist of candidates for the 14th general election, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
They have handed the list to the party and coalition leaderships for consideration, he added.
The choice of candidates is ultimately the prerogative of party president and coalition chairman Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, said Dr Ahmad Zahid, the Umno vice-president and Barisan deputy chairman.
"Datuk Seri Najib has the answer (on who will be Barisan's candidates). Nonetheless, Umno will have more new and women candidates this time around," Dr Ahmad Zahid said in an exclusive interview with The Star.
The interview at his office covered a range of subjects including Umno's preparedness for GE14.
Asked to confirm talk that all state Umno had come up with a list of three names for each seat the party wants to contest, Dr Ahmad Zahid said: "Why three names for each seat, why not five?
"No, it is the party leadership who will do the shortlist, not the state."
He added that most state Umno had submitted their lists. He also said Umno and Barisan had an independent body looking into the issue of candidates.
The method used by the body to narrow down the field in search of the right candidate has proven successful in previous by-elections held in Sungai Besar, Selangor, Kuala Kangsar, Perak and Tanjung Datu, Sarawak, he added.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said lobbying had already begun by some aspiring candidates. However, the choice of candidates would be decided by their ability to perform.
"Vetting is still in progress, that's all I can say for now. But party members should accept the party's choice," he said.
On Barisan component parties, Dr Ahmad Zahid said many had already made their selection for candidates in various states.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) has submitted its list of candidates, virtually ending any last-minute bidding for candidacy.
Party president Tan Sri James Masing confirmed that the list had been submitted and said the details would be revealed once the Prime Minister endorses the list.
In the last general election in 2013, PRS retained all six parliamentary seats of Lubok Antu, Sri Aman, Selangau, Julau, Kanowit and Hulu Rajang.
Gerakan had finalised 98 per cent of its list with only one or two seats still being discussed, said secretary-general Datuk Liang Teck Meng.
"We have submitted the list to the Mentris Besar (of the related states) to be forwarded to the Prime Minister," he said, adding that the Gerakan list was for 12 parliamentary and 33 state seats.
Malaysian Indian Congress secretary-general Datuk A. Sakthivel said the party had also submitted the list of candidates to Datuk Seri Najib, with at least at least four candidates for each seat.
Parti Bersatu Sabah is one of the few whose list is not ready.
Party acting president Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said they had submitted some names but the "list is not finalised".