KANGAR: Perlis is a peaceful, quiet state, loved for its sweet harumanis mangoes. But things are getting really hot here, with an epic election battle shaping up.
The state has only three parliamentary constituencies – Arau, Kangar and Padang Besar – and two of them look set for fierce fights.
With former mentri besar and federal territories minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim dropped by Barisan Nasional in Arau, the once-Umno powerhouse has thrown his glove into the ring on a Perikatan Nasional ticket.
Barisan’s chosen candidate Datuk Rozabil Abd Rahman now has a huge fight on his hands, with Abdul Razak Abdul Khalek, from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Gerakan Tanah Air coalition, likely to also contest.
Over at Padang Besar, Shahidan ally Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin, the outgoing deputy communications and multimedia minister, has also been dropped by Barisan and replaced with Puteri Umno chief Datuk Zahida Zarik Khan.
He, too, has announced that he will contest for the seat he has held since 2013.
Perlis voters can expect some serious fireworks on Nomination Day in both Arau and Padang Besar as Shahidan, Zahidi and their supporters march forth.
Arau is the southernmost constituency and shares borders with Kedah, getting its bustle from Kedah suburbs like Jitra and Bukit Kayu Hitam, although almost three quarters of Arau is covered in padi fields.
Shahidan first became MP here from 1986 to 1995. He then became the state’s mentri besar after winning the Tambun Tulang seat.
He returned as Arau MP in 2013 until Parliament was recently dissolved.
Shahidan told reporters he had no beef against Rozabil, an Arau local who made his fortunes in the federal capital and became a corporate figure.
He has his guns aimed at Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi instead.
“I will be a candidate against Ahmad Zahid. I am not against the BN candidate in Arau. I oppose Ahmad Zahid,” he told journalists.
In explaining Shahidan being dropped, Ahmad Zahid had said that Shahidan’s “time has passed”.
Shahidan has also taken up the cudgels for Muafakat Nasional, a pact formed between Umno and PAS in 2019. He has even registered an NGO in the same name.
He told reporters that he believed that between Perikatan and Muafakat, he had the right platform to unite Umno, PAS and Bersatu.
Zahidi, meanwhile, was at Shahidan’s service centre yesterday and vowed to contest the Padang Besar seat.
Although he did not name his platform, he may also stand as a Perikatan candidate, various media reported.