The talk in PKR is that he will be fielded in Kedah or Penang.
KUALA LUMPUR: Rumours are swirling in PKR circles that one of its most prominent activists –Badrul Hisham Shaharin aka Chegu Bard – will be fielded for a Kedah or Penang parliamentary seat in the coming election.
If this turns out to be true, election watchers will miss one of the most exciting contests in the polls. Chegu Bard has long been associated with Rembau, currently the seat of his arch-rival, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin. There has been no strong indication that Barisan Nasional will shift Khairy from there.
PKR insiders say the party’s de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim, has big plans for Chegu Bard and wants to ensure that he gets into Parliament. They say there are several seats in the northwestern states that are safer than Rembau for him.
A PKR man said Anwar has been raving about the success of the “Jom Ubah” roadshow in Negeri Sembilan, which was coordinated by Chegu Bard and Seremban PKR’s deputy chief, Dr Mohd Rafie Abdul Malik.
“Anwar was so impressed with the two-month roadshow that he has asked Chegu Bard to organise a similar but nationwide roadshow to be called Merdeka Rakyat,” the source said.
He said Anwar had spoken about Chegu Bard’s great potential for national politics and had mentioned the possibility of fielding him in Kulim-Bandar Baru, Padang Serai, Nibong Tebal or Bayan Baru. Kulim-Bandar Baru and Padang Serai are in Kedah. The other two seats are in Penang.
However, another PKR source told FMT that the chances of Chegu Bard contesting in either of the Kedah parliamentary seats were slim because Kulim-Bandar Baru had been earmarked for Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Padang Serai for R Surendran.
Saifuddin, the party’s secretary-general, hails from the Kulim area and Surendran is said to be popular in Padang Serai, a town he has been visiting frequently.
The remaining Kedah parliamentary seats that are safe for PKR are Sungai Petani, Merbok and Kuala Kedah. But the MPs for those seats have shown strong loyalty to the party and reshuffling the line-up to accommodate Chegu Bard will be quite a headache for Anwar.
There is a possibility that one of the three MPs – Johari Abdul (Sungai Petani), Rashid Din (Merbok) and Ahmad Kasim (Kuala Kedah) – will be asked to contest for a state seat and thus make way for Chegu Bard.
There is some logic to this theory as PKR will need credible assemblymen to take up executive council seats allocated to it if Pakatan Rakyat retains the state government. Johari, Rashid and Ahmad all fit the bill.
During the 2010 PKR election, Chegu Bard, who was a contender for the post of Youth chief, won in Kulim-Bandar Baru, Padang Serai, Sungai Petani and Merbok.
Some pundits say PKR will most likely decide on Nibong Tebal for Chegu Bard. They say his support there is strong enough to give him an easy win.
He can win easily in Bayan Baru as well, but the PKR division there has already proposed local candidates to party headquarters.
According to one enthusiastic supporter of Chegu Bard, the man is so popular as an activist and ceramah speaker that there are plenty of safe seats for him across the nation.
FMT has been unable to contact Chegu Bard for his comments.
If PKR does decide to move him to Kedah or Penang, then there are at least three candidates to choose from to replace him in Rembau.
One possibility is Rembau PKR secretary Norazizi A Aziz, who has been doing a lot of ground work in the area although he keeps a low profile.
Another possible candidate is the division’s deputy chief, Yusof Tapa. Yusof is an active politician, but age is not on his side against the youthful Khairy.
The other possibility is Negeri Sembilan PKR Youth chief Mohd Nazree Mohd Yunus. Indeed, a PKR insider told FMT that Negeri Sembilan PKR had submitted Nazree’s name to the party’s candidate selection committee.
However, many observers are agreed that Chegu Bard is the only Pakatan figure with any chance of defeating Khairy. They say the Umno Youth leader has stepped up his political activity in the Rembau area in the past two years and has been attending to constituency needs regularly, and his seat in Parliament is virtually guaranteed if PKR places Chegu Bard elsewhere.