BALIK PULAU: While the general election fever is heating up in the urban areas of the Penang island, everything seems to be quiet in the Barisan Nasional stronghold of Balik Pulau.
Talk is rife that incumbent Balik Pulau MP and Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya, who has contested in six general elections, might not contest in the coming one.
An Umno source said the final decision lies with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who might want a new face.
“Some who have been incumbents for several terms as MPs and state assemblymen are willing to step down,” said the source.
One such politician is Teluk Air Tawar assemblyman Datuk Jahara Hamid who called it quits after serving for five terms.
Three-term Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Dr Muhammad Farid Saad has shown interest in going for the Balik Pulau seat if Dr Hilmi steps down.
“In politics, it is not wrong to say you want to go for a particular post if you have the experience and support from the party and the people,” said Dr Muhammad Farid in an interview.
It is no hidden secret that he and Teluk Bahang assemblyman Datuk Shah Headan Ayoob Hussain Shah are in the running for the Balik Pulau parliamentary seat.
However, Shah Headan was coy about his intentions, saying it is better to be humble and continue serving the people rather than saying he should be chosen.
Shah Headan, who became the Balik Pulau Umno division youth leader 23 years ago, believes that he has the youth machinery if he was chosen.
With both PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leading the charge for the seats in Balik Pulau, Umno is wary of the disunity, which led to the party losing the seat to PKR’s Mohd Yusmadi Mohd Yusoff in 2008.
Dr Hilmi won back the seat with a majority of 1,539 votes in 2013 against PKR’s Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik.
Dr Muhammad Farid also retained Pulau Betong with a slim majority of 395 votes that year.
“We cannot take the voters for granted as the danger of losing is still there unless we unite and move with one voice during the elections,” said Shah Headan.
He won Teluk Bahang with a 801-vote majority in 2013. Dr Hilmi said he would leave it to Najib if he would get to contest for his seventh general election.
“I will abide by the prime minister’s decision,” he said.