Possible big-name candidates in Kemaman by-election

Diyana Ibrahim

Sources say Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar may represent Perikatan Nasional in the Kemaman by-election. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 29, 2023.

SEVERAL big names were mentioned as possible candidates for the Kemaman parliamentary by-election in Terengganu, which will take place on December 2.

Among the names being considered include Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar to represent Perikatan Nasional (PN) and state Umno veteran Ahmad Shabery Cheek, under the Barisan Nasional banner, said sources.

Another name said to be in the mix is former Umno strongman Annuar Musa, who now heads the Muafakat Nasional movement. He is however aligned to PN.

The by-election was called after the election court nullified incumbent Che Alias Hamid’s victory on September 26 on grounds of corruption during the election campaign in the run-up to the general election last November.

PAS did not appeal the decision and the Election Commission subsequently set December 2 for the by-election, with November 18 fixed as nomination day.

Sources also did not rule out PAS once again naming Che Alias for the seat.

However they added that Samsuri and Annuar were being considered as they could add strength to PN in the Dewan Rakyat.

“Naming these two leaders is more of a political strategy to increase the strength of the opposition’s voice in parliament.

“PAS’ target is to win with a large majority. So Samsuri is the right candidate.

“Similarly with Annuar, one of the reasons why his name is considered is because he can add value to PAS and also attract the support of Umno voters,” said a source.

The source, who is a state PAS leader, said party grassroots would not have a problem supporting a candidate from outside like Annuar if that is what the top leadership decides.

He added that Che Alias can still be an appointed assemblyman or hold a position in the state government even if he is not re-nominated.

Sources say Umno veteran Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s name is on a list of seven names submitted for the party’s consideration.
– The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 29, 2023.

“If you follow Terengganu’s political landscape, this local candidate is indeed a good choice.

“But if the top leadership were to name someone else, the grassroots will definitely support that candidate,” he said.

He also said Che Alias was a popular figure, especially in Kemaman where he has strong support.

“I have heard the party leadership may give him other positions such as an appointed assemblyman or a role in a state government subsidiary,” he said.

Kemaman PAS deputy chairman Hanafiah Mat confirmed Che Alias’ name remains listed as a potential candidate.

“Yes, we have sent three names. All are local candidates, including the incumbent Che Alias,” he said.

Asked about Samsuri and Annuar, he said the names were suggested by central PAS leadership.

“Both names are suggestions from the party headquarters. But if you follow the process, priority is given to Kemaman PAS to send a list of three names,” he said.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s name was also suggested by some as a potential PN candidate but that was quickly brushed aside by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.

PAS leaders also agreed that Umno would be going all out to give a tough fight, and will be mobilising all its strength to seize the seat.

Kemaman PAS deputy chairman Hanafiah Mat confirms incumbent Che Alias Hamid’s name remains listed as a potential candidate in the parliamentary by-election. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 29, 2023.

Reducing majority

On BN’s side, sources said Shabery’s name is in a list of seven names submitted for the party’s consideration.

“Shabery’s name is among the top on the list and is the choice of the grassroots. However we heard he is not interested in contesting in this by-election.

“I don’t know what the outcome will be. Another name in the list is Kemaman Umno youth leader Zulkefli Abu Bakar,” said a Terengganu Umno source.

Former menteri besar Ahmad Said was also initially mentioned as a potential candidate but his position as director of BN election machinery for the by-election ended the speculation.

Sources also said Ahmad had started preparations for the by-election.

“The first meeting for the Kemaman by-election was held last Sunday,” said a source.

Umno sources admitted it would be a tough for them to win but the plan was to reduce PN’s votes.

“We understand that it is quite impossible to win in this by-election. However our target is to reduce PAS’ majority,” said the source.

PN has a clean sweep of seats in Terengganu, both in the parliamentary and state assembly.

In the general election last November, PAS won all eight federal seats, and in the state elections in August, it won all 32 assembly seats.

Che Alias obtained 65,714 votes in the general election to win the seat with a majority of more than 27,000 in a four-cornered contest. His closest contender was Umno’s Ahmad, the former menteri besar, who garnered 38,535 votes. – October 29, 2023.

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