Isa Samad quits Umno to contest Port Dickson

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 – The Port Dickson parliamentary by-election has shaped up to be a more open race yesterday with the announcement by former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Isa Samad that he will contest the seat.

Additionally, PAS also made known their candidate for the by-election, strategically naming retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Mohd Nazari Mokhtar, to capitalise on the large number of military voters in the constituency.

The Islamist party candidate was however, a surprise move as it was earlier speculated that former Selangor menteri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim would take on PKR President Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

This brings to four the candidates whom voters can choose from on polling day, which has been set for October 13. The fourth candidate is independent Stevie Chan.

The parliamentary seat was vacated by PKR’s Danyal Rajagopal Abdullah on September 12, just four months after he won the seat in the 14th general election (GE14) held on May 9.

He won the seat with a majority of 17,710 votes, defeating BN’s Datuk V.S. Mogan, who is from MIC, and Mahfuz Roslan, from PAS.

You can’t fire me, I quit, says Isa

Facing the threat of expulsion by Umno over his candidacy, Isa Samad told Astro Awani last night that he is quitting the party instead.

“I want to contest the Port Dickson seat, so there’s no issue of me being fired because I have decided to leave Umno,” he was quoted as saying.

Isa Samad was most recently embroiled in scandals and allegations of mismanagement in Felda and the public-listed Felda Global Ventures (FGV). He has previously served as chairman of both government-linked entities.

He is confident of his chances with grassroots support, having been the Teluk Kemang Umno division chief from 1978 to 2017. The Port Dickson seat was previously named Teluk Kemang, prior to this year’s redelineation exercise by the Election Commisskion.

Isa won the Jempol parliamentary seat in the 13th general election in 2013, but was dropped by the party in GE14 last May, amid the scandals that followed him from his time in Felda.

Military gambit

With PKR’s Danyal having been a retired navy admiral, there is a strong rationale for PAS’s choice of retired serviceman as well.

Veterans group, National Patriots Association had previously condemned the move for Danyal to quit the seat just for Anwar to contest and get into the Dewan Rakyat.

So, it is left to be seen if the group has some influence, and the military voters will have enough sway to create a shock outcome in Port Dickson.

-NMT