Nik Aziz said he won’t quit

Kelantan MB who has served as an elected representative for 45 years will contest in elections

(NST) – KELANTAN Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, 81, who first stood as a Pas candidate in a 1967 by-election, announced yesterday his intention to contest the next general election.

Nik Aziz, who had in the past fended off calls for him to retire, notably from former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, also urged party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, 65, to at the very least contest a parliamentary seat.

Hadi, who is Marang member of parliament and state assemblyman for Rhu Redang, had hinted he would not contest the elections, making way for younger contenders.

Nik Aziz said yesterday: “I agree that we need to give way to new leaders. I have expressed my intention to step down to state leaders but was asked to stay on. This is the reason I will be contesting.”

He said this after delivering his weekly ceramah at the state Pas headquarters.

Nik Aziz said Hadi’s decision was his own and that he (Nik Aziz) as the party’s spiritual leader, could not do anything about it.

Nik Aziz said Pas now had many qualified candidates, including highly educated ones with doctorates and professionals compared with previously, when most were pondok religious school teachers and villagers.

In December, reacting to a call from Dr Mahathir for him to retire, Nik Aziz said: “I will put up a fight from the start until the end. How can I follow his footsteps? Who asked him to step down?”

Dr Mahathir, who last stood for a parliamentary seat at 74 in 1999, had said Nik Aziz should emulate him and retire from politics.

“I just want to advise him to forget any intention of contesting. It is good that he retires as I have also retired. Nik Aziz has been (in politics) longer than me,” Dr Mahathir had said then.

Dr Mahathir was first elected in 1964 while Nik Aziz first stood as a Pas candidate in a byelection for the Kelantan Hilir parliamentary seat in 1967.

The New Straits Times was also told that Pas had decided at a Wednesday night political bureau meeting that Hadi should contest either a state or parliamentary seat.

Pas information chief Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said Hadi had agreed to this.

“I hope that with this announcement, the issue will be put to rest.”

In a related development, Universiti Sains Malaysia social sciences senior lecturer Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk said the reluctance of the party to field new faces might be because of “old guards” within the party.

“When certain leaders have been around for a long time, senior members of the party might be unwilling to put their trust in new faces,” he said.