ALOR SETAR: Barisan Nasional (BN) announced on Tuesday (Apr 24) that it will once again field Nawawi Ahmad in the parliamentary seat where former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad is hoping to stage a comeback.
Mr Nawawi, 57, won the Langkawi seat in 2013 with more than double the number of votes received by his opponent then, the People's Justice Party's (PKR) Ahmad Abdullah.
This time round, Dr Mahathir will be the one contesting under the PKR logo. To win the contest in the 14th general election, he is banking on the development he had brought to the islands in his home state of Kedah when he was in power.
Mr Nawawi, however, urged voters not to get too sentimental when casting their ballots on May 9.
“He’s almost 100 years old, with due respect, how can he have the physical strength and energy, let alone time to serve the people here?” he said after his candidacy was announced.
“I respect Dr Mahathir as a father figure who has vast experience. However, in the case of elected representatives, we have to choose someone who can work day and night instead of a person who only comes to contest but later live in Kuala Lumpur,” he added.
Mr Nawawi, who is also the Langkawi UMNO division chief, called on voters to pick the candidate who can bring development to both the island and country.
One analyst has questioned if Mr Nawawi will be able to stand up against Dr Mahathir's legacy in Langkawi and his home state.
"The competition right now between Dr Mahathir and the incumbent is akin to an elephant going up against a cat," said Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi from the Department of Malay Socio-Culture of University Malaya.
"Dr Mahathir is a high profile candidate and a known personality, popular and synonymous with Langkawi and Kedah whereas the incumbent has moderate achievements comparatively."
Mr Nawawi is, however, confident of the BN's chances. He said the seat has been among the coalition's strongholds in Kedah, as shown in the last general election.
“We think that the strength of BN in Langkawi is the most powerful (compared to all parliamentary constituencies in the state). Our majority (votes) were over 11,000, whereas other areas only obtained between 2,000 and 3,000.
“This means Langkawi has the strength. However, we will not look down at the opponent because they also have their own (election) machinery,” he told reporters.
Additional reporting by Melissa Goh