PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Ex-Malaysian prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad is likely to contest in the upcoming general election, a top official of his party has said.
The 92-year old is likely to stand in the federal parliamentary seat of Langkawi that encompasses Malaysia's most popular tourist island, or in Putrajaya, the country's seat of government.
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman, vice-president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) said: "I think Dr Mahathir will offer himself as a candidate, as he is the torch bearer for us".
He told The Star in an interview: "According to all the talk, there is a big possibility he will contest in Langkawi, although he has also been asked to stand in Putrajaya."
Malaysia's 14th general election, due by August next year, is expected to be held in the next six months.
The Langkawi ward has always been held by an Umno politician representing the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, since it was created in 1995.
But its 31,000-plus mostly Malay voters is thought by PPBM officials to be supportive of Dr Mahathir, who turned the sleepy island into an international tourist destination when he was prime minister for 22 years until 2003.
Putrajaya, Malaysia's administrative capital, has the country's smallest parliamentary constituency with just 14,300 voters in the 2013 elections. The voters who live here are mostly civil servants and their families.
The seat was created in 2004 and its MP is Umno's secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
PPBM officials have said privately that putting Dr Mahathir to contest the Putrajaya seat would signal to voters that the opposition is serious about taking over the country, though it would face a tough fight.
PPBM was formed just over a year ago by Dr Mahathir and several other former Umno leaders including former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, following fallout over state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd involving Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Dr Mahathir is chairman of PPBM, which is a member of the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH), that he also leads.
PPBM has only one seat in parliament today and two state seats, and thus needs to vastly expand these at the next polls to show it has a wide support base.
Its only parliament seat now is held by Tan Sri Muhyiddin in Johor.
Its two state seats are in Kedah, held by Dr Mahathir's son Mukhriz, and in Johor, held by Mr Muhyiddin's former political secretary Shahruddin Md Salleh.
Tan Sri Abdul Rashid said in the interview that PPBM is expected to contest more than 38 parliament seats.
"This is more than what the DAP won in the last general election. We have no choice, as we are the lead party in Pakatan in terms of wooing Malay support.
"We also consider ourselves the leader in terms of getting public support for the opposition," he added.
Mr Abdul Rashid said PPBM would lead PH's charge in Kedah, Johor and Perak in GE14.