Najib faces grandson of ex-DPM Ghafar Baba

Supporters of Prime Minister Najib Razak in the state of Pahang yesterday where he filed his nomination papers to stand in Pekan.
Supporters of Prime Minister Najib Razak in the state of Pahang yesterday where he filed his nomination papers to stand in Pekan.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PEKAN (Pahang) • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak will face the grandson of the late deputy prime minister Ghafar Baba in his parliamentary constituency of Pekan in central Pahang state.

There are two other candidates in the four-cornered fight: Parti Islam SeMalaysia's (PAS) Ahiatudin Daud and independent Abd Kadir Sainudin.

Mr Zahid Mat Arip is a supreme council member of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), founded by former premier Mahathir Mohamad.

Mr Zahid was also a former special officer to scandal-tainted Felda chairman Isa Samad.

Tun Ghafar, who died in 2006 at the age of 81, was deputy prime minister to Tun Dr Mahathir for seven years until December 1993.

The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) is much loved among Malays for its huge role in helping reduce rural poverty by providing free land for rubber and oil palm plantations.

Felda voters, including those in Pahang, are among the staunchest supporters of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition that Datuk Seri Najib leads.

Felda and its palm oil unit Felda Global Ventures agency were hit by various scandals during Tan Sri Isa's time as chairman, with allegations of financial and land misappropriations, and allegedly inflated prices paid for hotels, involving hundreds of millions of ringgit.

Mr Isa, who stepped down as Felda chairman last year after six years, was questioned by the authorities last August, but was never charged.

Mr Zahid, who was an aide to Mr Isa, was among those nabbed for questioning but has denied any wrongdoing.

Previous media reports said Mr Zahid is expected to raise the Felda scandal during the campaign.

But Mr Najib will be very tough to dislodge. He has been Pekan MP since 1976 and won in 2013 with a majority of 35,613 votes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 29, 2018, with the headline 'Najib faces grandson of ex-DPM Ghafar Baba'. Print Edition | Subscribe