LANGKAWI — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will contest for the Langkawi parliamentary seat in the 14th general election.
The announcement was made by PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail after Dr Mahathir revealed the names of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) candidates for Kedah state and parliamentary seats at a PH ceremah here last night.
Former Kedah menteri besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir will contest the Jitra state and Jerlun parliamentary seats.
PPBM will contest in 16 state and seven parliamentary seats in Kedah.
Before his candidacy was announced, Dr Mahathir spoke to the crowd for about half an hour before naming the PPBM candidates for the state and parliamentary constituencies — except Langkawi.
Dr Wan Azizah then took over the mike and told the crowd: “I proudly announce the candidate for Langkawi … Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.”
Earlier, Dr Mahathir arrived at the open field in Padang Matsirat, just a stone’s throw away from Langkawi Airport, to applause from an audience of about 2,000.
Also present were PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Parti Amanah Negara president Mohamad Sabu and Mukhriz.
The stakes are indeed high for Dr Mahathir. If he wins it is a sign that he is still accepted by the people of Langkawi, who he had helped to uplift economically in 1987 when he declared the island status as free port.
Dr Mahathir was reportedly the first Malay medical doctor that oversaw healthcare in Langkawi in 1954 when he worked as a medical officer at the Alor Star General Hospital.
His contribution to the island’s development started as early as 1960s when he helped establish an extensive ferry service.
In 1980, as deputy prime minister, he was instrumental in the construction of the Kuah jetty and expanded the ferry services. The initiative opened up the island to more people and Langkawi quickly developed as a popular tourism spot.
This paved way for rapid development and by then, the island had modern roads and amenities that included its own public hospital. Today, the island also has its own airport and boasts a cable-car service for tourists.
In 1987, Dr Mahathir as prime minister declared Langkawi a tax-free zone, a move that brought in billions of tourist money into the island and made it among the country’s most popular vacation and shopping spots.