GEORGE TOWN: Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Nawawi Ahmad, who won the Langkawi parliamentary seat in the 2013 general election, has urged voters on the island not to get too sentimental when casting their ballots in the upcoming polls.
The Langkawi Umno chief was referring to the announcement that former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be the Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate for Langkawi in the May 9 election (GE14).
Nawawi said he was not surprised that Mahathir would come to Langkawi, and that the PH chairman himself had voiced his intention to contest in the seat.
“Actually, I respect Mahathir very much. Langkawi people also respect him because he is an old man and the former prime minister. He contributed much to the development of Langkawi.
“But that was back then. It was those days when he was in power, when he was the prime minister. Right now, he doesn’t have any power in the government. He is contesting here as an individual, not as part of a government.
“Even though we respect him very much, respect does not mean giving any hope to him. Respect in this sense means just saying hello, to kiss him and to pray for his health and long life,” he told FMT when contacted.
The announcement by the PH leadership at Padang Matsirat, Langkawi, on Sunday put an end to speculation on where the coalition’s chairman would be standing.
Langkawi was considered one of three potential seats for Mahathir, with the other two being Kubang Pasu and Putrajaya.
He was Kubang Pasu MP for seven terms and regarded as the man behind the development of Putrajaya as the country’s new administrative hub in the 1990s.
Nawawi, who is also Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad chairman, said the voters would have to consider their situation and whether they wanted to vote for an individual or a strong government.
“I think the voters will think of the future of Langkawi and of the country,” he added.
When asked if he viewed Mahathir as a threat, Nawawi evaded the question, saying he did not want to sound arrogant or boastful.
“But I feel that BN is very strong and will retain Langkawi in GE14.”
In the last general election, Nawawi won the seat in a straight fight with PKR’s Ahmad Abdullah, garnering an 11,861-vote majority.
In GE14, the contest is expected to see a three-way fight with PAS joining the fray.
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