Pakatan Harapan has agreed not to field any candidates in the upcoming by-election for the Slim state seat to make way to Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Bersatu faction to contest instead.
Harapan secretariat secretary Saifuddin Nasution confirmed that Harapan will not be contesting the by-election which will be held on Aug 29.
“Harapan agreed not to contest. We will give space to Mahathir’s Bersatu faction to contest,” Saifuddin told Malaysiakini in a WhatsApp message.
He said it was up to Mahathir’s faction, which refer to themselves as ‘Bersatu Blackout’, to decide on an opposition candidate to contest in the by-election.
He claimed that a Harapan presidential council member had told him that the coalition would not be fielding anyone for the by-election.
Following that, Harapan chairperson Anwar Ibrahim said the coalition would discuss with Mahathir’s faction the candidate choice for the Slim by-election.
The Slim by-election is under scrutiny as it will be the first polls involving Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Harapan, which did not contest in the previous Chini by-election either.
The Slim state seat was vacated after the incumbent from BN, Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib, 59, passed away at Hospital Bentong, Pahang on July 15 due to a cardiac arrest.
The Election Commission (EC) has since announced that the by-election will be held on Aug 29, with the nomination day being on Aug 15.
In the 2018 general election, Khusairi won the Slim seat defeating Bersatu’s candidate Mohd Amran Ibrahim and PAS’ candidate Muhammad Zulfadli Zainal, by a majority of 2,183 votes.
Meanwhile, when asked whether the candidate from Mahathir’s faction would use Harapan’s logo to contest the Slim polls, Saifuddin said he did not know.
“No idea. Only Mahathir can answer,” he said.
Previously, Marzuki had said ‘Bersatu Blackout’ would not use Harapan’s logo in the by-election.
“We will not contest using Harapan’s logo. Either we use a new logo or the logo given by the EC,” he had said.
‘Bersatu Blackout’ is a group of former members of Bersatu aligned with Mahathir which disagrees with Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin’s decision to leave Harapan in late February.
Those in Mahathir’s faction, including Mahathir himself, had their Bersatu membership stripped in May.