STATE Umno secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim wonders why former Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Seri Mohd Shariff Omar is still keen on contesting his seat as the promise made by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is no longer valid.
“I don’t know why Mohd Shariff wants to contest again. I know he claimed that Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told him to step aside for Tan Sri Mohd Nor Yakcop in 2008.
“At that time, Abdullah was PM and had the final say. Now, the final say lies with Datuk Seri Najib Razak," Azhar said. "What more does he want? He is not young anymore.”
He said Mohd Shariff should give way to the younger generation, who are more energetic, as they would be preferred by younger voters.
Azhar also revealed that Umno Youth information chief Datuk Seri Reezal Merican and former Bertam assemblyman Datuk Hilmi Abdul Rashid have shown interest in contesting the Kepala Batas seat.
That is, he added, could only happen if Abdullah decided to give up the seat.
“I am not saying they will certainly contest but that they have shown interest for the seat if Abdullah decides to stand down. The final decision for candidacy of course lies in the prime minister's hands,” he explained.
Despite not being fielded in the last general elections, Reezal and Hilmi have been active in the area, and are depending on Abdullah’s decision to defend his seat.
Recently, Abdullah’s son-inlaw, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, was also asked by the media if he would contest the seat and he replied that he was hoping to defend his Rembau federal seat.
Azhar also pointed out that four persons whom he felt were winnable candidates were eyeing his Penaga state seat, while several others hoped to be fielded for three other seats on the mainland.
However, he added that no one had voiced interest for the Pinang Tunggal state seat helmed by Datuk Roslan Saidin as everyone knew he was strong and well-liked by the community.
Azhar, 66, who is also state opposition leader, had declared that he would not be defending Penaga as he was old and wanted to spend time with his family.
“My family has asked me to retire. I have been around for 22 years. That is enough for me. I don’t know how the others do it.
“Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed are a different species because they can still endure in politics despite their age,” he said.