Zainuddin Maidin launched a vitriolic salvo against Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz today for declining to accept the challenge to contest against Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the Langkawi parliamentary seat in the next general election.
Referring to a news report that quoted Nazri as saying he was only willing to battle Mahathir on his own turf, Zainuddin, without mincing words, tweeted: “Pondan Padang Rengas.”
Padang Rengas is Nazri’s parliamentary constituency in Perak.
“Nazri is only willing to fight Mahathir in his own constituency. Still young, but afraid to fight against a senile old man,” added the former minister, better known as Zam.
Mahathir’s critics have often accused the nonagenarian of being senile due to his twists and turns, which even Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had raised during a recent speech.
According to Nazri, he cannot battle Mahathir in Langkawi because Umno’s seat allocation system does not allow him to move from Padang Rengas.
“Mahathir should know better. He was the BN president for many years and I shouldn’t have to teach him. He knows how the system works,” he told FMT.
Nazri started the ball rolling when he challenged Mahathir to contest against him in Padang Rengas.
Yesterday, Mahathir issued a counter-challenge to the minister to contest against him in Langkawi instead, fueling speculation that the 92-year-old former prime minister is planning to make a comeback to active politics.
“I am telling him to contest against me in Langkawi instead. That is, if I contest at all in the next general election,” Mahathir had said.
Commenting on this, Zainuddin said if it was true that Mahathir would contest, “it would heighten the people’s spirit to oust (Prime Minister) Najib (Abdul Razak).”
Though Mahathir included the caveat “if” in his challenge, a Facebook page dedicated to supporters of his son Mukhriz interpreted it as a “clear sign” that the former PM would contest in the election.
“Although he retired a long time ago, he appears to have no choice but to contest again in order to show his commitment to removing Najib and saving the nation,” added the posting.
Najib and his supporters have accused Mahathir, who is the chairperson of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), of attempting to engineer the political ascencion of his son, even at the expense of Umno, which Mahathir helmed for more than two decades.