Mukhriz's move to Ayer Hitam fuels MB speculation

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BN has announced that Kedah Umno liaison committee deputy chairperson Mukhriz Mahathir will be moved to contest in Ayer Hitam state seat in the fast-approaching general election.

The announcement further fuels speculation that the incumbent Jerlun MP is being slated for the Kedah menteri besar post should BN succeed in taking over the state.

Ayer Hitam state seat is located under the Jerlun parliamentary constituency.

Meanwhile, Kedah BN liaison chief Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah will defend his Bakar Bata state seat.

Whereas former Kedah Menteri Besar Mahdzir Khalid, who is the incumbent Pedu state assemblyperson, will be moving to the parliamentary seat of Padang Terap .

The seat allocation could also potential heighten infighting within the state Umno machinery ahead of the general election as to the post of MB.

This is particularly between supporters of Mukhriz and Ahmad Bashah, as well as with a third group said to support former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mukhriz's father Mahathir reigned as the nation's longest-serving prime minister for 22 years and remains popular in Kedah where he was born.

According to a survey by Universiti Utura Malaysia last year, BN was more likely to recapture PAS-held Kedah should it field Mukhriz as a menteri besar candidate.

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Meanwhile, another survey by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia finds that Mukhriz as MB could sway " fence-sitters " in favour of BN.

At the parliamentary level, caretaker Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of Islamic affairs Jamil Khir Baharom will defend his parliamentary seat of Jerai, while caretaker Housing and Local Government Minister Chor Chee Heung will defend the Alor Setar parliamentary seat.

'Candidates to face Pakatan big guns'

Caretaker Deputy Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Mohd Johari Baharom will defend his parliamentary seat of Kubang Pasu while caretaker Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Heng Seai Kie, who held her post as a senator, will now vie for the Padang Serai parliamentary seat.

The MCA Wanita vice-president will go against PKR vice-president N Surendran there, which was previously won by PKR's N Gobalakrishnan, who has since quit the party.

The Council of Former People's Representatives Malaysia (Mubarak) vice-president Othman Abdul will to come out of retirement to take on PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu in Pendang .

PAS had been just short of 50 votes from capturing Pendang in the 2004 general election, but BN managed to solidify its position in 2008 by winning the parliamentary seat by a 4,073-vote majority.

Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's political secretary Sahlan Ismail Nasution - brother of PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution - has been tasked in recapturing the parliamentary seat of Pokok Sena from PAS.

Saifuddin himself will be contesting in Kedah, but in the Kulim-Bandar Baru parliamentary seat, against Umno's Abdul Aziz Sheikh Fadzir who is the parliamentary coordinator there.

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