PETALING JAYA: The impending Kemaman by-election is one way to bring Dr Mahathir Mohamad back into Parliament, which would be in line with PAS’s ambitions to return to federal power, a former minister said.
Mahathir could also be the prime ministerial candidate for a Perikatan Nasional government, said Salleh Said Keruak, a former Sabah Umno leader and federal minister.
If the Islamic party wanted to make a comeback to Putrajaya soon, they would need to bring Mahathir back to Parliament now, he wrote in a Facebook post with the title “Will PAS trade Kemaman for a ticket to Putrajaya?”
Wondering if PAS would wait until the next general election (due by 2027) or use the coming Kemaman by-election for Mahathir’s return, Salleh said PAS saw no reason to wait as Mahathir was now on their side.
If the party wanted to be back in government, they would need to bring Mahathir back to the Dewan Rakyat immediately, he said.
However, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said earlier today it would be unreasonable of PAS to field Mahathir in Kemaman. “No, Tun is not shortlisted,” he said, adding that PAS and Perikatan Nasional had not decided on a candidate.
Salleh’s comments come in response to a statement by PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man that the party is confident it would soon be part of the federal government once again.
Tuan Ibrahim said PAS would be at the helm with PN.
Salleh said PAS strongly believed that Mahathir could do for PAS what he did in leading Pakatan Harapan to attain power in the 2018 general election – “provided he is an MP”.
He said PAS believed that Mahathir could reproduce his “political magic” once he is back in Parliament.
The Kemaman by-election on Dec 2 was called after an election court nullified the 2022 general election victory of PN candidate Che Alias Hamid of PAS because state government aid contributions to voters were held to constitute election bribery.
Mahathir co-founded Bersatu in 2016 after leaving Umno and entered the Pakatan Harapan coalition with PKR, DAP and Amanah. The coalition won the 2018 general election, and Mahathir became prime minister.
However, his government collapsed when Muhyiddin Yassin led Bersatu out of PH to join forces with PAS and MPs from Umno and Barisan Nasional to form a new government.
Mahathir, who was MP for Langkawi, lost his seat and his deposit at the general election last year.