Mahathir may defend Langkawi seat if no suitable Pejuang candidate: report

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Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reacts during a 2019 interview in Putrajaya, Malaysia. (Photo: REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad reacts during a 2019 interview in Putrajaya, Malaysia. (Photo: REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng)

Former two-time Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad on Wednesday (29 June) said that he may defend his Langkawi parliament seat at the next general election, if there are no suitable candidates from his Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Homeland Fighters' Party).

"We have candidates but at the moment we can't name them. If there isn’t (any suitable choice) and if people suggest (I contest in Langkawi), I will consider it,” he was quoted by Astro Awani as he spoke to reporters after a meeting with ferry operators at a hotel in Kuah, Langkawi.

The next general election must be called by 14 September 2023.

Dr Mahathir, who is chairman of Pejuang, turns 97 on 10 July. In March, citing his health and age, he said that he would not contest the next election. He has a history of heart ailments, and was hospitalised for a month earlier this year for an elective medical procedure.

Sparked controversy with comments on Malay lands

Last week, Dr Mahathir sparked controversy with neighbours Singapore and Indonesia for his comments on Malay lands.

In a speech on 19 June which was uploaded online, he said that Malay lands stretched from the Isthmus of Kra in southern Thailand to the Riau Islands.

"We should demand not just that Pedra Branca, or Pulau Batu Puteh, be returned to us, instead we should also demand for the return of Singapore and the Riau Islands to Malaysia as Malay lands," he said.

"But today, we are left with only the peninsula... I wonder whether we will continue to own this peninsula. I am worried for the future of Malays, whether the peninsula land will also be owned by another party," he added.

Three days later, Indonesia's foreign ministry rebutted the claim on the Riau Islands, saying there was no legal basis for it.

"In a time when the world is facing many challenges, a senior politician should not be making baseless statements that can harm friendships," said a foreign ministry spokesman.

A day later, Dr Mahathir claimed his comments were taken out of context.

"I am not asking Malaysia to claim the land that we had lost," he said. "I am trying to point out that we are so concerned over losing a table-size rock but never about bigger parts of Malaysia when they were taken from us."

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