Who’s in, who’s out?

ELECTION CANDIDATES: While some incumbents are ready to make way for new faces, others are coy on whether they intend to seek re-election

Ili Liyana Mokhtar, NST

AS the 13th general election draws closer, speculation is rife on who will be fielded and who won’t. While some incumbents have declared that they were making way for new faces, there were those who have remained coy when asked whether they still wanted to give the 2013 general election a go.

There are also those who have hinted that they wished to see action again in what promises to be the most keenly contested general election in Malaysian history.

Though many have indicated that they did not wish to be nominated for a seat, there were those who offered the oft-used statement that the prerogative lies with Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

BN has 141 representatives in the Dewan Rakyat, of which 75 have served more than three terms.

From the current cabinet, one minister who has announced that he would not contest the next election is Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui.

The Sarawak United Peoples’ Party president, who has served the Miri constituency for six terms, was earnest when he said he wanted to make way for young blood.

However, Chin has also indicated that he would continue to helm the BN component party until his term expires.

“Twenty-six years as a member of parliament is long enough and it’s time to hand over the baton to a younger person,” he was reported as saying.

Former ministers who are likely to bow out include the likes of former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.

The six-term Kuala Kangsar MP has made it known that she would not be contesting the Kuala Kangsar parliamentary seat because of the age factor.

“If you ask me, no, I don’t think I will (contest). I am 68, going on 69. I’m retired. It is time to let the younger candidates step in.”

But Rafidah, who is former Wanita Umno chief, said she was ready to play a supporting role in the party.

“I can still contribute, but not through an official (government post),” she has said last year.

She first contested and won the Selayang parliamentary seat in the 1978 general election. Four years later, she moved to the Kuala Kangsar constituency and has successfully held on to it since then.

Party sources have speculated that either Wanita Umno deputy chief Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim or first-term Bukit Chandan assemblyman Datuk Wan Mohamad Khairil Anuar Wan Ahmad will contest the seat.

Rafidah’s successor in Wanita Umno, Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, is also unlikely to be fielded.

She stepped down from the women, family and community development ministerial post last year after she was dragged into the National Feedlot Corporation issue.

Another former minister who has indicated that he would likely bow out is former housing and local government minister Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting (Kulai).

The former MCA president indicated in 2011 that he was not interested in contesting this time. Following suit were Tebrau MP Teng Boon Soon and two Johor executive council members Tan Kok Hong (Bekok) and Hoo Seong Chang (Paloh).

Five-term MP and former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat (Pandan) is also uncertain of being fielded. Though he has indicated he would like to contest, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has announced that the Pandan seat could see a new face being fielded.

The positions of former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (Kepala Batas) and Land Public Transport Commission chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar (Kota Tinggi) have also become subjects of speculation.

Former natural resources and environment minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid (Padang Besar) and former home minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad (Kangar) have also indicated that they could be in their last term but have left the decision to Najib.

One deputy minister who has said that he would not contest in the polls is Deputy Works Minister Datuk Yong Khoon Seng. The five-term MP had represented Padawan and then Stampin in Kuching.

Another former deputy minister from Sarawak who is unlikely to contest is Datuk Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib. The Kota Samarahan MP stepped down as deputy tourism minister in December 2009 for personal reasons.

Jerantut MP Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar is also not expected to make himself available this time. The former deputy transport minister, who is a three-term MP, has also said that he would not seek nomination.

Deputy Higher Education Minister and Temerloh MP Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said he hoped to be fielded in the same constituency.

The first-term parliamentarian, who took over the constituency from his predecessor, Mohd Sarit Yusoh, said: “I’m hoping to stand again, so that I can continue my work here, but, of course, the decision lies with the leadership.”

Two former menteris besar who have indicated that 2008-2013 would be their last term are Jertih assemblyman Datuk Idris Jusoh (Terengganu) and Pengkalan Hulu assemblyman Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Mohd Ghazali (Perak).

Maran MP Datuk Ismail Abd Muttalib, when asked whether he would be seeking re-election, said it was not his say whether he should be retained or not.

“This is not a question that should be directed at me. Someone should be fielded based on the track record in the constituency and what the people want.

“Ultimately, the leadership will decide what is for the best,” said the 59-year-old when contacted yesterday.

As for two-term Sri Gading MP Datuk Mohamed Aziz, who has also served as state assemblyman for several terms, he said it was up to the party president to decide whether veterans should continue as the people’s representatives.

“We should not be announcing the candidates beforehand as it is not our job,” said the 72-year-old.