SPECULATION has been swirling over who will be selected as the candidates for the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections that will be held on June 18, following the deaths of Sungai Besar MP and Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister Datuk Noriah Kasnon, and Kuala Kangsar MP Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad in a helicopter crash on May 5.
However, acting Kuala Kangsar Umno Chief Mohd Kamil Shafie remains coy over the matter.
After chairing the party’s special committee meeting at Sayong Resort in Kuala Kangsar on May 11, Mohd Kamil said Umno will leave it to the party leaders to decide on the candidates.
“We have activated the party machinery for the by-elections but we haven’t decided who the candidates will be.
“Our aim is to continue the good work of the late Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Wan Ahmad and the candidate must do that too.”
The by-elections will be held simultaneously, with the Election Commission (EC) setting June 18 as polling day for both seats.
Noriah and Wan Mohammad were among six people killed when the helicopter they were in crashed near Sebuyau in Sarawak.
Wan Mohammad, who is a native of Kuala Kangsar, was an assemblyman in Bukit Chandan from 2008 till 2013.
In the 2013 General Election, he became the first local to be elected as Kuala Kangsar MP after defeating PAS’ Khalil Idham Abdullah and former Wanita Umno deputy chief Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim.
Mohd Kamil said Kuala Kangsar is an interesting constituency because the people are fine with outside candidates.
“Except for Wan Mohammad, the former parliamentarians in Kuala Kangsar were outsiders. We prefer a local candidate, but we are open to outsiders too.
“We trust the leadership to choose a winning candidate. Some out there have recommended some names but they are entitled to their opinion.
“For now, we haven’t decided on the candidate but we will move on with our preparations. Our coalition partners are also prepared,” adding that their main aim is to better the majority of the last elections.
Last Friday, Perak Barisan Nasional announced that they had presented some names to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be considered for the by-elections this June 18.
Perak BN Chairman and Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir said the candidates have to meet important criteria such as whether he is liked and accepted by the people and can ensure victory for BN.
“The prime minister will make the final choice,” said Zambry.