ALOR STAR, April 11 — Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) said it was banking on Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to boost its campaign in Kedah, a state that PAS — which Amanah broke away from — once held for a single term.
Kedah Amanah chairman Datuk Ismail Salleh said his party was heavily dependent on the Alor Star-born Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman’s influence in Kedah to help Amanah win 10 state seats in its first general election outing, as Amanah was a new party.
“Tun Mahathir is essential to Amanah’s success in Kedah because he is an icon here. His fame will be able to help us sway Umno voters to vote for the Opposition instead,” Ismail told Malay Mail.
“We are a new party and it takes time for us to establish a following and gain traction among the people, as part of the PH coalition. We will get a boost because of Tun Mahathir.”
Dr Mahathir, who chairs Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), is highly speculated to make a run in Langkawi.
Langkawi residents hold deep sentiments for Dr Mahathir as they credit him for transforming the island from a rural backwater into a travellers’ paradise.
One of the first things Dr Mahathir did for Langkawi when he was appointed prime minister was to make it a duty-free zone in 1987.
Just a year later, Dr Mahathir built the Langkawi International Airport and the Kuah jetty, easing daily travel for many residents in Langkawi.
But he has also expressed interest to contest in Kubang Pasu in Kedah, where he served as their MP for 30 years from 1974 to 2004.
Aside from Kubang Pasu, Dr Mahathir could potentially contest in Putrajaya.
Considering the strong support behind Dr Mahathir in Kedah, Ismail said it was reasonable to use the “Tun M factor” to Amanah’s advantage as the two and a half-year-old party wanted to maximise its reach.
“It isn’t a matter of us using him. He is there as our leader because the people believe in him and he is still relevant,” said Ismail.
“He is able to draw crowds like no other, not even Anwar Ibrahim. Anwar would appeal to the now-debunked Pakatan Rakyat supporters, but Tun Mahathir’s reach goes as far as the Umno voters as their former president,” he added.
Ismail said while voters may initially choose Amanah because of Dr Mahathir, he urged voters to pick the party so as to put Amanah’s governance to the test.
Amanah aims to win more than six out of the ten state seats they will contest in, while PPBM will contest in 14 state seats, PKR in 10 and the DAP in two. PAS and Umno will contest all 36 state seats.
In Election 2013 which saw straight fights between Barisan Nasional (BN) and the-then Pakatan Rakyat that comprised PKR, DAP and PAS, Umno won 21 state seats against the Opposition’s 15 (nine for PAS, two for DAP and four for PKR).
The PKR-DAP-PAS coalition previously won Kedah in 2008, but lost the state in the 13th general election after a term under the late Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak from PAS.
“They may choose us because of him, but we are also giving Kedahans what they want. With the help of PH, we can do a lot of things,” Ismail said.
“Through my observation, Kedahans mostly worry about the increased cost of living and we are offering them a way out of that.
“Our capabilities as a government will be tested, but we hope Tun Mahathir will give voters the confidence they need to vote for us,” added Ismail.