Former academician and PKR state deputy leader 58-year-old Mansor Othman (pic below) will be the party candidate for the Penanti by-election next month.
This was announced by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to a crowd of more than 1,000 people packed into Yayasan Aman, Penanti tonight.
Among Pakatan Rakyat leaders present were Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, PKR national president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, state PKR chief and Bayan Baru parliamentarian MP Zahrain Mohd Hashim, state DAP chairperson and state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow and former Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.
Since the seat fell vacant after its incumbent representative Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin resigned on April 16, speculations were rife that Mansor was PKR supremo Anwar’s pick for the contest.
Mansor, a former professor from Universiti Sains Malaysia, was Anwar’s political secretary when the Parliamentary Opposition leader was the deputy prime minister in the Barisan Nasional federal government.
The by-election was called by the Election Commission when Fairus resigned as the elected representative.
Polling day will be Sunday, May 31
Earlier on April 8, he resigned as Deputy Chief Minister 1 and executive councillor after he was embroiled in a graft allegation linking him to quarry operations on Penang’s mainland.
He has since been cleared by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) from all allegations.
Last weekend, Fairus reiterated his stand to resign from Penanti, prompting the EC to call for a by-election. Polls will be on Sunday, May 31 and nomination falls on Saturday, May 23.
The "Fairus" lesson has prompted Anwar to pick "a politically-strong Penang-based party senior leader" to contest Penanti.
Mansor is a highly-respected figure within PKR circle and could not be bullied by rivals as in the case of Mohammad Fairus, who was young, inexperienced and lacked political maturity.
Truth is Anwar needs Dr Mansor to put order in the state PKR, which currently is being hit by factionalism.
Anwar has hinted that the PKR candidate for the Penanti by-election will be the highly likely nominee for vacant deputy chief minister 1 (DCM 1) and exco positions in the Pakatan Rakyat Penang government.
The posts are part of PKR’s quota in the DAP-led state government.
Anwar said the by-election was unavoidable because PKR had to choose a capable leader who can work closely with the chief minister and contribute efficiently to the state administration.
The PKR leader’s stand dashes any lingering hopes harboured by current state executive councillor and Batu Maung assemblyperson Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim to succeed Fairus.
However, Mansor has a black mark in his CV, a history of losing streaks in general elections.
Hopes to end unwanted record
He lost to Zain Omar in the Balik Pulau parliamentary duel in 1999, to Ariff Shah Omar Shah in Seberang Jaya state seat contest in 2004 and to Muhammad Farid Saad by 294 in Pulau Betong state constituency.
He hopes to end the unwanted record and stripped off his loser’s tag with a win in the Penanti by-election.
On paper, PKR looks favourite to retain the seat. Even the Umno leadership recently hinted the party may not field a candidate.
Penanti comes under Anwar’s Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency – a PKR stronghold.
"Even though it is in Permatang Pauh, our stronghold, we shall not be complacent, arrogant and take things for granted. We must work harder to achieve a big win," said the PKR leader.
Anwar also called on Lim to consider Mansor, if he wins Penanti, as PKR nominee for the DCM post.
Mansor, a former university student leader, could have been Anwar's original choice to be the state DCM 1. But it did not materialise due to his electoral defeat in Pulau Betong.
Penanti will be the sixth by-election since the March 8 general election, five of which were snatched by Pakatan Rakyat.
Lim earlier reaffirmed DAP’s commitment to ensuring a PKR's victory in the by-election and called on Penanti voters to teach another lesson yet again to Umno and Barisan Nasional.
Zahrain reminded party supporters to protect the pride of the party and Anwar, and ensure victory as Penanti comes under the "PKR political bastion".
And Mansor has said he is up to the challenge.