LANGKAWI: The prospect of former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad contesting in the island which bears his legacy has heightened after a brother of a former Umno assemblyman has openly come forward to lobby for it.
Juhari Bulat, who is the younger brother of Hassan Bulat who had served for five terms as the Padang Matsirat assemblyman, believed that he was echoing what the majority of the people in Langkawi want.
“We sincerely and wholeheartedly want him to contest here. He is without doubt, the person who has raised the fortunes of the island folks,” said Juhari.
Juhari, who is part of the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) set up in Langkawi, said that Mahathir was instrumental in developing the island, and the islanders were naturally grateful for his contributions.
With the 14th general election just around the corner, the island is abuzz with the possibility of seeing the 92 -year-old Mahathir back on the island, but this time campaigning for the parliament seat.
If Mahathir does contest, Langkawi will automatically become the center of attention during the election, the people here concluded.
Since the 1990s, Langkawi has been home to leadership figures in the Kedah political scene, and it is no surprise if Mahathir choose the parliament seat here to launch his political comeback, said Ahmad Pishol Isahak, a political observer on the island.
In the 1990s, the Kuah state seat was held by former menteri besar Sanusi Junid, who passed on earlier this month.
And Mahathir’s son Muhriz was touted as among the candidates who may also contest in Kuah or in the Langkawi parliament seat.
Pishol said that Mahathir not only developed the island, but it was during his era that the island resort recorded an impressive growth in tourism.
“Now, there are signs of expansion and development, but tourism on the island has evolved into one which is not spread out to appease the entire travel trade fraternity as the numbers simply do not tally up.”
There are record number of arrivals, yet some accommodation and restaurant operators lamented that they do not enjoy the spillover.
Then, there is the underlying factor that whatever revenue earned, it is reversed with the rising living costs, made worst by a sense of ignorance and arrogance towards proposed sustainable tourism models, he added.
Johari Shahrom, an officer working for Juhari, said that the public sector has proclaimed impressive growth statistics, but what counts was what happens on the ground.
“An election will be decided by the ordinary folks, those living daily with hardships rather than just public officials, whose viewpoints are often disguised due to the nature of their jobs. They are confined as armchair officers and hence, their views are obstructed by the office windows.”
So, the reports tend to be more of a fleeting account rather than the blunt truth that the economic conditions are not as rosy as before, said Johari.
But, Langkawi Umno officials have slammed such perceptions, saying Mahathir only developed Langkawi when he was with Umno and the federal government; he was able to sway with doing things his way.
And the Umno incumbents in Langkawi, are no pushovers.
The parliamentarian is Nawawi Ahmad, the present Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) Holdings chairperson, and there is Norsaidi Nayan, the Kuah assemblyman, who is popular among the youths and Mohd Rawi Hamid, who is the Kedah executive councillor in charge of tourism.
“The line-up brings the necessary inroads to elevate the island’s status.”
Furthermore, the voters here need to juggle between what is a political fantasy and what is reality, they opined.
The truth remained that Mahathir is leading an Opposition alliance that has not convinced a sizeable number of voters that they are a better alternative compared to the present Barisan Nasional coalition.
“In the Opposition are those who are tainted in their own right.”
To this, Pishol opined that this election should be about the people, not just the politicians – the wisdom of the people is what counts in any election.