Mahathir to contest in Langkawi in Malaysia polls: Sources

Mahathir to contest in Langkawi in Malaysia polls: Sources

Mahathir Mohamad (C) holding the opposition election manifesto
Mahathir Mohamad (C) holding the opposition election manifesto AFP/Mohd RASFAN

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's longest-serving prime minister, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, will contest in Langkawi in his home state of Kedah in looming polls, sources with knowledge of the matter told Channel NewsAsia. 

"It's confirmed," one person told Channel NewsAsia on Monday.

The opposition coalition chairman is expected to make his bid to return to the nation's top office in the islands he helped develop into a major tourism hub, barring any changes in strategy. Dr Mahathir, 92, needs to win a parliament seat to be interim prime minister, as planned, should the opposition form the government in polls due any week now.

Dr Mahathir had joked last week that where he would be contesting was a "national secret". However, he had previously narrowed it down to three locations: Langkawi,  Kubang Pasu, and the administrative capital of Putrajaya.

While a formal announcement has yet to be made, Dr Mahathir has been working the ground in Langkawi. In 2013, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition had retained the parliamentary seat with 21,407 votes, more than double the number of votes won by the candidate from Anwar Ibrahim's People's Justice Party (PKR).

This time, however, Dr Mahathir is expected to bank on voter nostalgia to help him wrest the seat, even if contesting under a PKR banner. The veteran politician will have to use PKR's logo when campaigning as his own party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, was provisionally disbanded on Thursday, two days before Malaysia's parliament was dissolved, for allegedly failing to provide required documents to the Registrar of Societies.

An official declaration on Dr Mahathir's intended seat is expected soon with Malaysia's election and nomination day dates due to be announced on Tuesday

The medical doctor returned to active politics in 2016 in a bid to oust Prime Minister Najib Razak and his own former party, UMNO, from power, saying they no longer represented the politics he believed in. 

Dr Mahathir first began criticising Mr Najib over the controversies surrounding state investment fund 1MDB before leaving UMNO to form his own party, Bersatu, with other former UMNO members. 

Source: CNA/na(hm)

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