BN sticks to familiar faces for GE14

Among notable names include Zulhasnan in Setiawangsa, Yeow in Wangsa Maju and Ahmad Said in Terengganu

By AZREEN HANI / Pic By TMR File

Barisan Nasional (BN) has announced its candidates for seven states ahead of nomination day on Saturday, fielding many familiar names but with a few notables missing.

Up until today, BN has officially announced candidates for Terengganu, Federal Territories, Kelantan, Melaka, Negri Sembilan and two states deemed to be among key battlegrounds in this election — Selangor and Johor.

In the mix of incumbents and fresh faces so far, it is interesting to note that there are big names in the ruling coalition who are making their political comebacks to defend BN seats at parliamentary and state levels.

Among notable names include Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique, a former Cabinet minister and Malaysian ambassador to US who will contest in Setiawangsa and Wangsa Maju MCA division head Datuk Seri Yeow Teong Look to vie in Wangsa Maju.

In Terengganu, former Mentri Besar (MB) Datuk Seri Ahmad Said returns to defend his old Kijal state seat while Datuk Marsum Paing, a former Dengkil state assemblyman will take on the Sepang parliamentary seat that was previously contested by Datuk Seri Ir Mohd Zin Mohamed.

BN Melaka chairman Datuk Seri Idris Haron ended weeks of speculations on whether ex-Chief Minister Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam will be included in the 14th General Election (GE14) line-up, by confirming yesterday that Mohd Ali would be the party’s candidate for the Hang Tuah Jaya parliamentary seat (previously known as Bukit Katil) despite his defeat in the GE13 with a majority of 5,447 votes.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s political secretary Wong Nai Chee is also a comeback candidate for the Alor Gajah parliamentary seat. He replaces Bukit Katil MCA division chief Datuk Koh Nai Kwong who is moved to contest for the Machap Jaya state seat.

In Kelantan, there are four candidates who are making their political comebacks in the parliamentary seats. They are Datuk Wan Johani Wan Hussin for Tumpat, Datuk Abdullah Mat Yassim for Rantau Panjang, Datuk Seri Mohamad Abdul Ghani for Kubang Kerian and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki for Pasir Puteh.

Meanwhile, in Johor, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin announced that he would contest both Parliament and state seats, making him the first Johor MB in history to do so.

Mohamed Khaled would re-contest his old parliamentary seat, Pasir Gudang, that was held by incumbent Normala Abdul Samad in the past election. He would also defend his Permas state seat.

Negri Sembilan BN chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan announced that two former Cabinet Ministers, Datuk Seri Hassan Malek and Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor, would be defending their parliamentary seats in Kuala Pilah and Tampin respectively.

Despite early rumours that the incumbent for Jempol parliamentary seat Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad (picture) would contest in GE14, Mohamad announced that Mohd Isa is being replaced by Datuk Salim Sharif.

MCA Youth chief Chong Sin Woon would be making his debut in GE14 by contesting for the Seremban parliamentary seat.

Political observers believed the move to bring back familiar faces for the May 9 poll was made following feedbacks from various agencies.

According to pundits, the longest serving party in Malaysia is sending signals that it will not take any chances in its efforts to defend and wrestle back the seats it lost previously.

“BN knows what is at stake here. They know it will be the hardest battle, so they have to ensure that they are fully prepared against the Opposition’s onslaught,” an analyst who spoke under the condition of anonymity told The Malaysian Reserve. “Old, familiar faces can be good for the party and the constituency they are fighting to represent. They have the track record, people on the ground know what they are capable of. It’s harder for voters with newcomers.”

Dr Jeniri Amir from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak expressed similar views, saying it is better for BN to stick with experienced candidates who know how to navigate in what is described as the most intense general election in Malaysia’s history.

“Some of these leaders may have issues in the past, but I’m sure they are fielded based on their ability to win,” Jeniri said, giving former MB Ahmad of Terengganu as an example. “Love him or hate him, one cannot deny Ahmad’s influence. The same goes to Zulhasnan. BN shows that it would not want to take any risks this time around, hence the comebacks.”

While BN old guards are making a revival in politics, there are a few notable names that have been dropped by the party.

In a surprise move, BN Johor has dropped Special Affairs Department DG Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi from its election line-up. Puad, who lost the Batu Pahat seat in GE13 to PKR, is replaced by Haliza Abdullah, who happens to be Puad’s Wanita division chief.

Deputy Multimedia and Communications Minister Datuk Seri Jailani Johari is also missing from BN Terengganu candidacy, where he is replaced by Datuk Rosol Wahid, a former Ajil assemblyman who was dropped in the 2013 polls.

Another Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah will not be defending his Paya Rumput seat in Melaka, as he is moved to contest the Paya Rumput state seat instead.

However, Jeniri believes it is too early to assess the extent of damage that may have caused from leaders that are being sidelined, but they believe BN would have prepared contingency plans against internal sabotage.

“BN’s decision is not made overnight, I’m sure they are prepared to face any threats from within,” he said.