Former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad today said he has no intention to contest in the 14th general election.
This comes after he reportedly challenged Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz to contest against him in Langkawi, in response to Nazri’s dare that Mahathir contest in Padang Rengas.
“Nazri challenged me to stand against him in his constituency Padang Rengas. I congratulate him for his courage.
“The reason for this bravado is that Nazri knew I have no intention to contest in the next general election. So his challenge is an empty one,” Mahathir, 91, said in a blog post.
However, he said, if Nazri insist on challenging him, then the Umno warlord might as well have an open debate against him on 1MDB, the RM2.6 billion donation to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak or the RM55 billion loan from China for the East Coast Railway Link project.
“Or any other topic including BMF. This can be organised without condition,” he said.
Earlier, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) secretary-general Shahruddin Md Salleh said there is no talk of Mahathir contesting in the next general election.
“Mahathir is only appointed as sponsor for the Langkawi Bersatu division,” he told Malaysiakini.
The predominantly Malay constituency of Langkawi was won by BN’s Nawawi Ahmad by a majority of 11,861 votes.
He secured 21,407 votes, trouncing PKR’s Ahmad Abdullah (9,546 votes) and independent candidate Marina Hussein (180 votes).
When contacted, Nawawi declined to comment on the likelihood of facing the veteran politician in the next general election.
Meanwhile, BN’s Kubang Pasu MP Mohd Johari Baharom laughed off the suggestion.
“Is that true?” he asked, before bursting into laughter and refusing to comment further.
Mahathir was first elected into Dewan Rakyat as Kubang Pasu MP in 1974.
Johari, who is now deputy defence minister, was Mahathir’s political secretary.
The Kedah island of Langkawi, the former premier’s brainchild, is now a top tourist destination.
Kedah is a Bersatu focus given grassroots support for Mahathir and his son, Bersatu deputy president Mukhriz Mahathir, the state’s menteri besar before he was ousted by Umno.