ALOR SETAR, April 10 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is fondly idolised by many in his hometown state of Kedah, and his former party-turned-nemesis Umno has acknowledged that it may lose several of its supporters to the former prime minister’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).
State Umno Youth chief Datuk Shaiful Hazizy Zainol Abidin said the party is monitoring those it deemed as Dr Mahathir’s sympathisers for signs of alleged betrayals.
“We have identified those who are Tun Mahathir’s sympathisers, we also know that some voters have left us for other parties like Parti Amanah Negara, PPBM or even PAS,” he said in a recent interview with Malay Mail.
Shaiful also claimed that the party has a plan on how to tackle Dr Mahathir’s massive influence in the state, but refused to elaborate before the reveal of its manifesto for the northern state.
“We can’t reveal what our back up plan is yet, but we are monitoring those who have shown signs of being traitors,” he added.
Dr Mahathir, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, had previously served Kubang Pasu voters as their MP for three decades.
Kedahans also credit him with developing Pulau Langkawi into a tourist hub.
It has been speculated that the PPBM chairman will contest in either of the two seats, or in Putrajaya, the national administrative capital which he helped establish.
Dr Mahathir’s son Datuk Seri Mukhriz has also served as the state mentri besar for three years.
Shaiful downplayed Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) chances, saying the Opposition pact would not have a chance of wresting the state from Barisan Nasional (BN) had Dr Mahathir not joined its fight.
Despite that, he said PH is still not strong enough to take Kedah, saying the pact would only appeal to those left frustrated when they were in Umno.
“PH’s market is for ex-Umno members and former Umno-seat contesters who did not win in past elections,” he said.
He also dubbed PH foolish for thinking it could win in its first electoral outing without the support of ally-turned-rival PAS.
The Islamist party had governed Kedah for one term in 2008 under the Pakatan Rakyat pact but failed to regain the state in 2013 due to poor administration by its leadership of then MB, the late Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak.
“PAS is strongly rooted in the hearts of many Kedahans, PH must be joking if they think they can win without PAS,” said Shaiful.
Mukhriz was later appointed the Kedah mentri besar in 2013, but was later removed on February 2016 for openly criticising Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd issue.
He was then abruptly replaced with Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, which is still a sore point for many in the state.
Shaiful added that Umno’s campaigning has never changed, even when Dr Mahathir announced his return to politics.
“Internal bickering will always happen, but our preparation for the 14th general election is at full capacity and we are reducing sabotage within the party.
“Sabotage will happen no matter how united you are, but as long as we are able to predict and manage the outcome, then we are still on the right track,” he said.
Umno will contest in all 36 state seats, and will face PAS in all of them.
PPBM will be leading PH’s foray into the state by contesting in 14 seats, followed by PKR (10 seats), Amanah (10) and DAP (two).
Umno also holds 10 out of the 15 Parliamentary seats in Kedah.