ALOR SETAR: Since it has been touted Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is running in Langkawi, his former party-turned-nemesis Umno has been put on the alert.
Malay Mail Online reported that Kedah Umno is keeping a sharp eye on Dr Mahathir sympathisers as the former premier is idolised by many in his hometown state of Kedah.
Acknowledging that it may lose several of its supporters to the former prime minister’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), Kedah Umno Youth chief Datuk Shaiful Hazizy Zainol Abidin said the party is monitoring those it deemed as Dr Mahathir’s sympathisers for signs of alleged betrayals.
“We have identified those who are Tun Mahathir’s sympathisers, we also know that some voters have left us for other parties like Parti Amanah Negara, PPBM or even PAS,” he said in a recent interview with Malay Mail.
The New Straits Times reported although no official decision has been announced as yet, Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been long touted to be contesting in Langkawi as it is said to be the most appropriate.
A PPBM source confirmed that the matter was discussed by the party leadership but no official decision has been reached as yet.
“Yes, Langkawi is indeed the most ideal seat for Tun Mahathir to contest but there is no official decision as yet despite the fact that it has been deliberated by the party leadership.
“Perhaps he will make an official announcement soon.
“According to the initial plan, the PPBM candidates list for all Parliamentary seats will be announced by the national leadership,” said the source, when asked to comment on a report that Dr Mahathir has been confirmed to contest in Langkawi.
Claiming that the party had a plan on how to tackle Dr Mahathir’s massive influence in the state, Shaiful refused to elaborate before the revelation of its manifesto for the northern state.
“We can’t reveal what our back up plan is yet, but we are monitoring those who have shown signs of being traitors,” he added.
Shaiful downplayed Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) chances, saying the Opposition pact had no chance of taking the state from Barisan Nasional (BN) had Dr Mahathir not joined its fight.
Despite that, he was confident PH was still not strong enough to take Kedah, saying the pact would only appeal to those left frustrated when they were in Umno.
“PH’s market is for ex-Umno members and former Umno-seat contestants who did not win in past elections,” he said.
He also dubbed PH foolish for thinking it could win in its first electoral outing without the support of ally-turned-rival PAS.
The Islamist party had governed Kedah for one term in 2008 under the Pakatan Rakyat pact but failed to regain the state in 2013 due to poor administration by its leadership of then MB, the late Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak.
“PAS is strongly rooted in the hearts of many Kedahans, PH must be joking if they think they can win without PAS,” said Shaiful.
Dr Mahathir had previously served Kubang Pasu voters as their MP for three decades.
Kedahans also credit him with developing Pulau Langkawi into a tourist hub.
NST reported another source in the party did not rule out the possibility that Dr Mahathir will make an announcement when he visits Langkawi this weekend.
“Dr Mahathir will attend a programme at Bukit Tangga in Kubang Pasu Parliament constituency this Friday evening before heading to Langkawi the next day.
“Maybe he would make announcement when he is there in Langkawi,” said the source, NST added.
It has been speculated that the PPBM chairman will contest in either of the two seats, or in Putrajaya, the national administrative capital which he helped establish.
Dr Mahathir’s son Datuk Seri Mukhriz had also served as the state mentri besar for three years.
He was later appointed the Kedah mentri besar in 2013, but was later removed on February 2016 for openly criticising Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd issue.
He was then replaced with Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, which is still a sore point for many in the state.
Shaiful added that Umno’s campaigning has never changed, even when Dr Mahathir announced his return to politics.
“Internal bickering will always happen, but our preparation for the 14th general election is at full capacity and we are reducing sabotage within the party.
“Sabotage will happen no matter how united you are, but as long as we are able to predict and manage the outcome, then we are still on the right track,” he said.
Umno will contest in all 36 state seats, and will face PAS in all of them.
PPBM will be leading PH’s foray into the state by contesting in 14 seats, followed by PKR (10 seats), Amanah (10) and DAP (two).
Umno also holds 10 out of the 15 Parliamentary seats in Kedah.