GEORGE TOWN: Nibong Tebal, Permatang Pauh, Pandan and now Port Dickson were among the parliamentary seats bandied about as possible districts Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president Anwar Ibrahim could contest prior to becoming Malaysia's eighth prime minister.
Two of the seats - Nibong Tebal and Permatang Pauh - are in Penang. Pandan in Selangor is now held by Anwar's wife and Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. The latest addition - Port Dickson, is in Negeri Sembilan.
According to a report in The Star Online on Tuesday (Sep 11), which cited "top party sources", Anwar will contest a parliamentary seat in Negri Sembilan. Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, MP for Port Dickson is the only PKR representative in Negri Sembilan, the Malaysia news website said.
Speculation on the seat to be contested by Anwar heated up following news that there will be an official announcement by PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail on Wednesday.
Earlier, there was word that Anwar would be standing in Nibong Tebal, Penang which was his home state when he began his political career.
Nibong Tebal is now represented by Penang PKR chairman Mansor Othman who won in the general election with a majority of 15,817 votes, while Permatang Pauh is a stronghold of the party and is represented by Anwar's daughter Nurul Izzah, who won with a 15,668 majority.
However, Mansor denied on Monday he would be giving up the Nibong Tebal seat to make way for Anwar and prior to that, Saifuddin was reported as saying that Anwar would not be contesting in northern states.
On Tuesday, Saifuddin also denied Anwar would be standing in the Pandan parliamentary seat.
Saifuddin, who is also Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister, said the seat chosen by Anwar would be the "safest" based on studies as well as the previous results.
Universiti Sains Malaysia political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said if Anwar chooses Penang, the most ideal seats would either be Permatang Pauh or Nibong Tebal and if it is outside of Penang, several demographic and geographical factors would have to be taken into consideration.
He said one should consider if Anwar was required to be the deputy prime minister before becoming prime minister, thereby the need to sacrifice Wan Azizah even though she had previously said as she would not be stepping aside.
"This will also end the story of nepotism. Nonetheless, the most popular leader now is Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah and if she were to vacate her seat, there would be an effect on the number of women representatives,” he said.
Sivamurugan also said PKR could consider seats in which the incumbents were no longer interested to serve and wanted to concentrate on their profession or business.
"But all these should be thought out in terms of demography and geography as well as to avoid the issue of nepotism and cronyism as the seat was for the 'PM in Waiting' and it has to ensure easy victory for him. If the ethnic composition is like Nibong Tebal, it would reflect the national population as well.
“While many are offering their seats, some are outright reluctant to give in to the man who would be made prime minister,” he said.
Some political observers said Anwar would be returning to Permatang Pauh and Nurul Izzah would give way and she should be contesting in a Penang state seat.
However, this runs the risk of having two by-elections and Nurul Izzah would not be allowed to contest a parliamentary seat for five years from the date of her resignation, according to the Constitution.
However this seat, like the others, has been denied by the PKR secretary-general, and the only one still in question is Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan.