ALOR SETAR: PKR is banking on cooperation between former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the party’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to get the support of Malays, not only to defend Alor Setar but to help Pakatan Harapan (PH) win the state.
Alor Setar MP Gooi Hsiao Leung said the local Chinese voters’ inclination towards federal opposition parties, as shown in the general elections of 2008 and 2013, had remained unchanged.
He said a key issue was therefore whether the 14th general election (GE14) would witness a “Malay tsunami”, just as a “Chinese tsunami” was said to have helped the opposition in the last polls.
“I believe the cooperation between Anwar and Mahathir will generate the Malay tsunami needed for us to defend Alor Setar, as well as to recapture Kedah,” he told FMT.
He said the presence of PPBM, chaired by Mahathir, would help draw more Malay votes for PKR.
Mahathir and other Malay leaders in PH had also tempered Umno’s alleged move to scare Malays from voting for DAP and PKR, he added.
Gooi, who is also Alor Setar PKR division chief, said the party had secured 40% to 45% of the Malay vote for the Alor Setar parliamentary seat in the last election, which might increase in the coming polls.
Mahathir, who ruled the country for 22 years until 2003, is one of two former prime ministers born and raised in Alor Setar. The other is Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who led the country after its independence from 1957 to 1970.
In the last general election in May 2013, Gooi defeated incumbent Chor Chee Heung of MCA with a slim 1,873-vote majority.
Chor had held the seat for five consecutive terms.
In the 2008 general election, Gooi failed to oust the then-MCA vice-president, losing by a narrow margin of 184 votes.
Alor Setar, the capital of Kedah, is the second largest town in the northern state after Sungai Petani.
It has nearly 70,000 registered voters, of whom 62% are Malays, 33% Chinese and 5% Indians.
The parliamentary constituency’s boundaries cover three state seats.
Bakar Bata is held by Kedah Menteri Besar and state Umno chief Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, Kota Darulaman by DAP’s Teoh Boon Kok, and Alor Mengkudu by PAS’ Ahmad Saad @ Yahaya.
Gooi said the removal of Mahathir’s son, Mukhriz, as menteri besar in 2016 would also influence the voters.
Mukhriz was still with Umno when he was removed as Kedah menteri besar following declarations of no confidence against him by Barisan Nasional (BN) state executive councillors.
“The episode is still very raw in the minds of the people, especially the Malays,” Gooi said, adding that Mukhriz, who is now PPBM deputy president and PH vice-president, would lead the charge for PH in Kedah.
Gooi said the Malays were also drawn towards PH due to issues like the rising cost of living and the goods and services tax (GST) introduced by the BN federal government in 2015, as well as controversies like the one surrounding 1MDB.