Former Johor menteri besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin has ruled out making a comeback in the upcoming state assembly elections.
"I made this decision without hesitation and with pleasure. We must all work hard and persistently so that BN succeeds again in leading the state of Johor, said Khaled, who is also Umno vice-president and Pasir Gudang Umno chief.
"I will not contest and will not offer myself up for contest in the state polls.
"I feel current MB Hasni Mohammad has done a good job leading the state.
"We need to give opportunities and exposure to young leaders to contest. This is my decision even though some people claim that I will contest, that is not true," he told Berita Harian today.
On January 14, Mohamed Khaled shared a picture of himself with the Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, at Istana Pasir Pelangi, thus raising speculation that he will make a comeback and contest in the polls.
Khaled, on the other hand, explained that the meeting with the Johor Sultan was just a courtesy call as well as to discuss current issues affecting the state, including the issue of floods.
Asked about rumours that he would be nominated for the state seat in the Kota Tinggi district, one of Umno's strongholds in Johor, Mohamed Khaled denied the allegation.
"No, no. This issue does not arise. That is not my or Umno's priority.
"It must be understood that we want to ensure that Johor returns to stability and the interests of the people must be given priority over other things," he said.
In the 14th General Election (GE-14), Mohamed Khaled lost the Permas state seat by a margin of 8,746 votes when he got 20,047 votes to Che Zakaria Mohd Salleh of Bersatu, who obtained 28,793 votes.
He also suffered a massive defeat by a majority of 24,726 votes for the Pasir Gudang seat, losing to PKR's Hassan Karim.
Despite its losses in the last GE, Umno has slowly clawed its way back due to Bersatu's defection, culminating in Hasni taking over as MB from two consecutive Bersatu MBs.
Umno has been accused of trying to take advantage of the pandemic conditions to give itself a bigger majority.