Six state elections: big names expected to join the fray

Up to five serving and ex-federal ministers likely to contest in state polls

(The Star) – Up to five current and former federal ministers could contest in the upcoming state elections with many of them running under the Perikatan Nasional banner.According to informed officials, the move to field the big names is to help give the opposition coalition a good shot of capturing the “jewel” state of Selangor while retaining control of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.

A high-ranking Perikatan source said among the stalwarts that the coalition could be deploying in Selangor are former ministers Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and possibly Tan Sri Noh Omar who was sacked from Umno.

However, he added that at this point, nothing is confirmed yet.

Former communications and multimedia minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa is expected to stand in Kelantan.

Political heavyweights: (From left) Azmin, Nurul Izzah and Tengku Zafrul are tipped to contest in the state elections.

Meanwhile, a Selangor Umno source said Barisan Nasional, a coalition in the federal unity government, might nominate federal minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz to contest in Selangor.

The Investment, Trade and Industry Minister is nearing the end of his second term as a senator.

A PKR supreme council source also said Pakatan Harapan is considering Nurul Izzah Anwar, a senior leader in the coalition who was defeated in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in GE15, to contest either in Penang or Selangor.

However, other PKR officials who know of these plans said Nurul Izzah might not be interested in contesting as she has her hands full with the secretariat that supports the operations of the Advisory Committee to the Finance Minister.

Political scientist Dr Mazlan Ali said the impact of these political heavyweights in the state elections depends on who they are, where they will be fielded and which party they are up against.

Azmin is formerly an economic affairs minister and a Selangor menteri besar while Noh used to helm Cabinet portfolios that included agriculture, and cooperatives and entrepreneur development.

Shahidan is a former Federal Territories minister and menteri besar of Perlis.

“Despite the fact that Noh was a longtime Selangor Umno chief, he was still unable to take back Selangor from Pakatan, so it remains to be seen how he will perform this time,” said Mazlan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

The same can be said of Azmin, who was unable to defend his Gombak parliamentary seat in GE15 against a former ally, Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, the current Selangor Menteri Besar.

Azmin, Noh and Shahidan have declined to state which seats they will contest but have thus far not denied that they will be fielded in the state polls.

Despite their decades of experience and service, veterans Noh and Shahidan were dropped by Umno from contesting in GE15.

Noh, a former Selangor Umno chief, has said he plans to turn his old parliamentary seat, Tanjung Karang, into a Perikatan stronghold.

As for Shahidan, he eventually contested under a Perikatan ticket in GE15 and won the Arau parliamentary seat.

“If (the Perikatan leadership) needs me to contest, I will contest, but what is more important is that Perikatan take over all the states in the polls,” Shahidan was reported to have said on April 27 on the possibility of contesting in Selangor.

Similarly, Tengku Zafrul also said he is open to contesting a state seat in Selangor.

“Whether or not I will be fielded depends on the party leadership but my stance is that I will accept their decision either way,” Zafrul, who failed to wrest Kuala Selangor from Amanah’s Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad in GE15, told reporters on June 15.

Bersatu information chief Senator Datuk Razali Ismail declined to comment on the speculation, describing them as “too early”.

Bersatu is part of the Perikatan coalition with PAS, Gerakan and Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).