Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Dr Mahathir Mohamad looks set to be back on the hustings for the next general election.

According to party insiders, the leadership council had backed the 92-year-old politician to be fielded as a candidate.

“There has been a strongly backed proposition for Mahathir to be fielded as a candidate due to an overwhelming demand from the grassroots,” said one source.

However, the source said the party has yet to decide where Mahathir would be fielded.

“Not for the moment, but he has responded positively to our suggestion,” he added when quizzed on this.

Mahathir was an eight term MP, having served as the MP for Kota Star Selatan for one term and then seven terms as the Kubang Pasu MP in Kedah.

The last time he was fielded was 1999. He only tasted defeat once – to Yusof Rawa, who would later become PAS president – in 1969.

Several top Bersatu leaders declined to comment on this issue.

In a text message to Malaysiakini, Bersatu supreme council member Rais Husin said the candidate list has yet to be finalised.

Previously, there was speculation that Bersatu would likely field Mahathir in Langkawi or his old stomping ground of Kubang Pasu. Both are known Umno strongholds in Kedah.

A general on the battlefield

Meanwhile, University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute director James Chin told Malaysiakini that fielding Mahathir would be the right decision for Bersatu.

“You can’t have a general in Pakatan Harapan fighting a battle from the rear. He has to be in front leading the ‘troops’.

“Once he announces it, BN will accuse him of trying to be prime minister again. Personally, I don’t think he wants the job. It involves too much day-to-day work for a nonagenarian,” he said.

However, Chin believed that should Harapan win, Mahathir would probably be accorded some form of oversight role to ensure government policies are carried out.

He said fielding Mahathir would also set various records, for instance, he would be the oldest election candidate in Malaysia’s history.

“If he gets back into parliament, he will be remembered not only as a Malaysian political icon, but also a regional one.

“I cannot think of another leader in Southeast Asia who has made a comeback using a different political party,” he added.

– M’kini