KOTA BARU, April 21 — While focusing on the three states within the Pasir Mas, the Kelantan Barisan Nasional (BN) is open to helping Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali campaign for the federal seat.
BN’s Che Johan Che Pa failed to turn in his nomination papers yesterday, making it the only seat not contested by the coalition in the May 5 polls. He will face a disciplinary inquiry for his absence.
“It is up to him if he wants to hitch a ride. Pandai-pandai dia la,” Kelantan BN secretary Datuk Md Alwi Che Ahmad told The Malaysian Insider in a telephone interview.
According to Alwi, Ibrahim is well-versed enough in politics to know when to “hitch a ride”, referring to his previous alliances with Umno and PAS.
This time, the stout politician, known derisively as “frog” for his party-hopping ways, will face PAS’s Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz in a straight fight.
In the last election, Ibrahim ran for Pasir Mas on a PAS ticket, but became a BN-friendly MP after a falling out with the Islamist party.
Besides Umno and PAS, Ibrahim had previously pledged allegiance to Semangat 46 and Berjasa.
Alwi explained that Che Johan’s refusal to contest is a non-issue, since voters are now presented with two clear choices in a straight fight: an anti-Umno candidate, and one that is neutral.
“What’s important, is that PAS has a challenger,” he said, referring to Ibrahim.
BN denied yesterday that it had deliberately pulled its candidate out from the Pasir Mas contest to make way for a straight fight between incumbent Ibrahim and PAS.
Kelantan BN chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said in a statement here that the state leadership had not been aware of and was “shocked” by Che Johan Che Pa’s decision not to contest the seat.
It was previously speculated that Ibrahim, the controversial president of Malay supremacy group Perkasa, might be picked by BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak to defend his Pasir Mas seat as a BN candidate.
Perkasa patron and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also stepped into the fray by urging the BN leadership to choose Ibrahim, even saying he would campaign for the former PAS member.
But Ibrahim failed to make it into BN’s candidates list. Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin, yet another controversial leader, was however selected for the Shah Alam contest against incumbent MP Khalid Samad.
There are three state seats under the Pasir Mas parliament — Tendong, Pengkalan Pasir and Chetok — all won by PAS in the last polls.