By P PREM KUMAR / Pic By TMR
More than 2,400 candidates are expected to file their nomination papers tomorrow to contest for 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats in what some observers describe as the closest general election since independence.
Barisan Nasional, which has ruled the country for 61 years and seen as a favourite, will be led by its chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.
The caretaker prime minister will contest in Pekan, a seat which he first won uncontested in a by-election in February 1976 after the death of his father, the late Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
Pakatan Harapan is expected to field Zahid Mat Arip, who was the former special officer to former Federal Land Development Authority chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, while PAS has 63-year-old Captain (R) Ahiatudin Daud as its choice.
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will defend the Bagan Datuk seat for the sixth time.
Attention of the country will also be on former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who will content in Langkawi. Former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was sacked from Umno, will contest in Pagoh and the Gambir state seat.
Selangor caretaker Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali will contest for the third time in Gombak and the Bukit Antarabangsa state seat.
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail will contest in Pandan, while her daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar will take on the party’s stronghold of Permatang Pauh.
In Johor, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang is set to contest in Iskandar Puteri (formerly known as Gelang Patah) for the second time, while DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng will be defending the Bagan parliamentary constituency and Air Putih state seat.
In Kuala Lumpur, Umno heavyweights such as Tan Sri Zulhasnan Rafique returns to the political arena and will contest the Setiawangsa seat he won during the 12th General Election (GE12), while Datuk Seri Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin (picture) seeks to redeem himself in Lembah Pantai.
Most of the constituencies are expected to face at least three-cornered tussles, as Gagasan Sejahtera led by PAS is believed to be fielding its candidates in more than 150 parliamentary seats and hundreds of other state seats.
Gagasan Sejahtera consists of PAS, Malaysia National Alliance Party (Ikatan) and Pan-Malaysian Islamic Front (Berjasa) — all of which will be using the PAS logo in GE14.
Many independent candidates are also expected to get into the ring and contest during the GE14. Many observers said the key tilting point will be the support of the Malay voters, especially in rural areas. Sabah, Sarawak, Johor and Kedah are some of the key states which will decide the course of which party will rule the country for the next five years.