KUALA LUMPUR – September 14, 2017: While having Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad as a candidate in the general elections may boost the morale of Pakatan Harapan supporters, political analysts see this also as a high risk for the opposition.
The general opinion is that the potency of the risk may not be less even if Mahathir stands in an opposition stronghold.
The former prime minister’s possible participation in the polls surfaced following reports that Pribumi Bersatu leaders were keen to field their 92-year-old chairman, which could make him the oldest electoral candidate since Malaya gained independence 60 years ago.
“He may still be influential but having him contesting in even a safe seat will only strengthen the critics’ narrative that he is eyeing to be prime minister again,” said geostrategist Dr. Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
Azmi instead said Pribumi Bersatu and its allies would get more support should Mahathir go head-to-head with key Barisan Nasional leaders, particularly Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the latter’s constituency in Pekan.
“The notion of having Mahathir taking on a BN big gun may even push other opposition candidates to up their game,” said Azmi.
Political analyst Md. Shukri Suib of Universiti Utara Malaysia cautioned that the people will eventually realise that the ploy of returning Mahathir to parliament will contradict the opposition’s promise for change.
“Bringing Mahathir back into parliament is not change but a relapse. Do opposition supporters want to go back to his style of governance?
“Are they confident that other Pakatan Harapan leaders will be able to stop Mahathir if he wants everything to go his way?” added Shukri.
Asked where Mahathir may likely contest in the next general election, Shukri predicted that it would likely be a safe constituency in his home state of Kedah.
Other possible constituencies should be in areas where he is known to have contributed a lot, like Langkawi and Putrajaya.
“These places have less voters compared to others (Langkawi has 27, 980, Putrajaya 5,079).
“This way, he will not have his hands tied and can help campaigning for others too'” said Shukri.