KEPALA BATAS: Former deputy minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Shariff Omar will contest the Tasek Gelugor parliamentary seat as a Pakatan Rakyat-friendly candidate.
Mohamad Shariff, who was Penang deputy chief minister from 1995 to 1999 when the Barisan was in power, said he would announce on Saturday the opposition party he will represent.
The former deputy minister will be in a straight fight with outgoing Permatang Berangan assemblyman and Tasek Gelugor Umno division chief Shabudin Yahaya.
Mohamad Shariff, 65, was the Barisan's Tasek Gelugor MP before he was dropped in 2008 in favour of Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, a minister in the Prime Minister's Depart-ment.
Nor Mohamed, who won the seat with a 4,547-vote majority, is not contesting in GE13.
Mohamad Shariff claimed that Tasek Gelugor was no longer safe for the Barisan.
Asked if he was ready to be expelled by Umno over his intention to contest against the Barisan, he said: “By all means. It is not a death sentence.”
Mohamad Shariff was a Penang state executive councillor until 1990 and parliamentary secretary in the then Agriculture Ministry until 1995.
He returned to state politics in 1995 before being made the Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister in 2004.
Meanwhile, supporters of outgoing Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah are appealing to the Barisan leadership to let him contest the seat.
Kampung Pertama Umno branch member Rashid Ismail, 63, said Arif Shah was a winnable candidate who had survived the March 2008 “political tsunami” and served the people well during his two-term tenure here.
“Nearly 13,000 voters out of the total 30,000 voters in this constituency are fence-sitters who may opt to either vote for the Opposition or spoil their votes,” Rashid told a press conference called by 50 supporters of Arif Shah at his service centre in Seberang Jaya here yesterday.
Barisan had picked Permatang Pauh Umno division deputy chief Datuk Mohammad Nasir Abdullah to contest the seat.
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