PETALING JAYA – Two political analysts have advised opposition leader Dr Mahathir Mohamad to contest in Langkawi instead of his former constituency in Kubang Pasu or in Putrajaya.
This is because the analysts say the rakyat in Langkawi are thankful to the 92-year old for developing Langkawi into a world-class tourist haven, building an international airport on the island and making it the host of big-scale events such as the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition.
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Azizuddin Mohd Sani said people in Langkawi are grateful to the former prime minister.
“The old and the young, the business community are all thankful to him. They have a strong attachment with him. If he wants to contest it may be the best seat for him to achieve victory,” he told FMT.
He was asked to comment on the PPBM chairman’s announcement on Dec 31 that he may contest in one of three parliamentary seats – Langkawi, Kubang Pasu or Putrajaya – in the 14th general election (GE14).
Mahathir had said he was told that he has a good chance of winning in Langkawi, Kubang Pasu or Putrajaya. “So be ready for that,” he had said.
However, Azizuddin said it may not be a good idea to take on the administrative city of Putrajaya as the voters are public servants and will likely support the ruling government.
“Even though, he is the one who built Putrajaya, there is a tendency for civil servants to vote for Barisan Nasional. It is a small constituency and Tengku Adnan knows everyone there,” he said, referring to Tengku Adnan Mansor who is the current Putrajaya MP.
In the 2013 general election, Putrajaya had 15,791 registered voters.
Tengku Adnan won the Putrajaya seat with 9,943 votes against Husam Musa, who contested under the PAS ticket and got 4,402 votes. Husam is now with Amanah, a Pakatan Harapan component party.
Azizuddin said the number of voters in Putrajaya would have increased to at least 20,000 for GE14 and they are likely to support the government.
Kubang Pasu not safe for Dr M anymore
Kubang Pasu is no longer a safe seat for Dr Mahathir to contest in, says Kamarul.
UUM’s Kamarul Zaman Yusoff said even though Kubang Pasu is Mahathir’s former parliamentary seat, it is no longer a safe seat for him to contest.
He said the incumbent Mohd Johari Baharum, who is also the deputy defence minister, has the support of the voters.
“The seat is held by someone who is resourceful and has been looking after the voters very well. Even though, Mahathir held the seat for decades, Johari has the support on the ground now,” Kamarul Zaman said.
Johari first stood in the constituency in 2004, replacing Mahathir who had been Kubang Pasu MP since the seat was created in 1974. Prior to that, Mahathir was Kota Star Selatan MP from 1964 to 1969, but the constituency had been dissolved in the 1974 re-delineation exercise.
In the 2004 general election, Johari won with a big majority of 13,712 against PAS’ Mohd Jamal Nasir. He followed that with a 7,060-majority in 2008 and retained the seat with a bigger majority in 2013 getting a 10,444-majority against Dr Isa Ismail from PAS.
“The best place for Mahathir to contest is Langkawi. People are still grateful to him for developing Langkawi. Furthermore, the Langkawi MP from BN is not seen as credible enough. The voters are still mocking the current MP for his blunder on MO1,” he said.
He was referring to Nawawi Ahmad who had linked the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to the “Malaysian Official Number 1 (MO1)” named in the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) suit. At the time, the Sultan of Kedah, Tuanku Abdul Halim, was the king.
Nawawi later apologised for the statement and said he had never intended to associate the King with the issue, saying that his comment was made viral and misinterpreted by certain quarters.
Kamarul Zaman also agreed with his UUM colleague Azizuddin, saying that despite strong attachments among some civil servants in Putrajaya with Mahathir for creating the administrative city, it would not be strong enough for the former PM to win the constituency.
“We have to understand Putrajaya is dominated by civil servants who will most likely vote for the government. The mentality of civil servants is different. They feel obligated to the government.
“Hence, it will be difficult for Mahathir to win in Putrajaya or in Kubang Pasu,” Kamarul Zaman said.
Mahathir had focused on Langkawi since the early days of his premiership. He had also granted duty-free status to Langkawi and set up the Langkawi Development Authority to drive its development.
After Langkawi was accorded free port status in 1987, Mahathir continued to help in its developent, visiting the island regularly and inspecting the progress of its development.