Port Dickson by-election heats up with PAS and former Negeri Sembilan chief minister joining the fray

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The Port Dickson by-election is fast shaping up to be a mammoth of an election for the seaside town with both the Pan Islamic Party (PAS) and Isa Samad, a former chief minister of Negeri Sembilan announcing their intentions to join the contest.

Local and international press are closely monitoring this latest by-election which will see Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president-elect and Prime Minister-designate Anwar Ibrahim make his official return to mainstream Malaysian politics.

PAS introduced retired Royal Malaysian Air-Force (TUDM)  Lieutenant Colonel (R) Mohamad Nazari Mokhtar as their chosen candidate to stand in the election. Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, deputy president of PAS made this announcement in Port Dickson last night  (Thursday, 27 Sept).

Mohamad Nazari Mokhtar’s 28 years of service in the TUDM and military experience was no coincidence as the seaside town of Port Dickson is also home to a few army camps and is known as a military town.

Previously PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had proudly claimed that PAS would be introducing a candidate that would match Anwar Ibrahim’s calibre. Besides his military experience, Mohamad Nazari Mokhtar has a Masters in Defence and Strategic Studies and is a seasoned politician and leader.

He had represented PAS in the state seats of Panti and Pasir Raja, Johor during the 13th and 14th general elections and manages his own religious school in Tenggara, Johor.

The other candidate, Isa Samad needed no introduction to the Malaysian public. He was chief minister of Negeri Sembilan for 22 years (1982-2004),a former UMNO vice-president and former chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA).

He had tendered his resignation as UMNO member two days ago on Tuesday, 25 September to the UMNO division of Teluk Kemang in order to contest as an independent candidate in this latest by-election.

UMNO had earlier declared their boycott of the Port Dickson by-election which they deemed to be an undemocratic and unnecessary move to serve only the selfish ambitions of one person.

Isa Samad had announced on Thursday, 27 September that he had quit UMNO under no pressure from any parties but because he had genuinely wanted to contest in the by-election to serve the people of Port Dickson.

Calling himself a “PD boy”, Isa Samad told the press that he was known to the local people for his 40 years of service as an assemblyman in the state seats of Linggi and Bagan Pinang which are both under the parliament seat of Port Dickson. From 2004 to 2008, Isa Samad was also the member of parliament for Jempol in Negeri Sembilan.

Mohamad Nazari Mokhtar (PAS) and Isa Samad’s participation has turned the Port Dickson by-election into a five cornered fight between political heavyweight Anwar Ibrahim (PKR), Ahmad Kamaruddin of Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) and independent candidate, Stevie Chan Keng Leong, a local social media personality.

There are also rumours of Ezam Mohamad Nor, Anwar Ibrahim’s former aide and a former senator as well as Khalid Ibrahim, former chief minister of Selangor possibly adding their candidacy to the election. As such, nomination day which is scheduled for Saturday, 29 September could still spring a few surprises for voters.