JOHOR BAHARU, April 2 – Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s attempt to loosen Barisan Nasional’s grip on Johor in the upcoming 13th general election is facing a major problem which could cripple its political ambition. Johor PR is now facing a big problem arising from DAP’s rapacity in wanting to monopolise the winnable parliamentary and state seats for the opposition.
As a result of the ‘big brother’ and greedy attitude of DAP, its relations with the other partners in PR, especially with Johor Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) at this critical time, is strained. DAP’s avarice started to emerge in Johor when it casted PKR aside and placed its supremo Lim Kit Siang as the opposition candidate for the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat which had been contested by PKR since 1999.
The announcement of Lim’s candidacy in Gelang Patah by PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has greatly disappointed Johor PKR chairman Datuk Chua Jui Meng who decided not to attend the candidacy announcement on March 18.
Upset with the loss of the Gelang Patah seat which was described by Johor PKR as a ‘Grade A’ seat with a huge potential for the opposition, Chua decided to go on “long leave” from Johor PKR. The former health minister had placed high hopes to contest that seat until he clashed with Johor DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau in protecting PKR’s “right” to contest the seat.
Now there are speculations in the alternative media that Chua is prepared to resign as Johor PKR chairman although this has been denied by the PKR state leadership. Chua’s deputy, Dr Ahmad Faidhi Saidi is acting as Johor PKR chief while
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali has been proposed to head the PKR election machinery in Johor. DAP’s action in seizing the Gelang Patah seat from Johor PKR has left a deep wound in relations between the two parties.
Unhappy with the loss of Gelang Patah seat to DAP, Johor PKR leaders have stressed that they would not compromise anymore with DAP on seat allocation.
“Once is enough. Surely they (DAP) cannot take all the good seats. We will work hard and we have the support of the grassroots.
“This is Johor PKR’s stand, we are serious on this matter and there will no more compromise,” said Johor PKR vice-chairman Hassan Karim who was a candidate for Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) for the Johor Baharu parliamentary seat in 2008.
Hassan and the PKR state leaders are forced to take a firm stand as there are talks DAP is now eyeing the Johor Jaya state seat after being successful in stealing the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat. To fulfil his ambition of breaking into Johor, a BN stronghold, Lim is said to be interested in contesting a state seat and is eyeing Johor Jaya as a potential seat for the opposition. In his grand plan to conquer Johor, DAP is targeting 15 parliamentary seats in the upcoming general election.
“Johor PKR will not compromise on Johor Jaya and we have ‘locked’ the seat for PKR to contest. We (PKR) are not claiming the seat from anyone, but only protecting the PR spirit,” said Hassan.
To prove his seriousness, he and the state PKR have taken the unilateral action of announcing its legal bureau chief Jimmy Phua as the PR candidate for the Johor Jaya seat. Hassan said Johor PKR had also decided to field its candidates for the Segamat parliamentary seat and Tangkak state seat which were contested by DAP in 2008.
Johor PKR’s action of announcing the candidatess for the Segamat, Johor Jaya and Tangkak seats without first referring to the PR presidential council is seen as challenging the council, which is responsible for determining PR candidates
for the 13th general election. According to a Johor political observer, Johor PKR hoped DAP would give up the Segamat seat in exchange for Gelang Patah but so far, there were no signs of such a move.
“Johor PKR is forced to take the pre-emptive action to pressure the party’s central leadership not to give in to DAP in the allocation of seats,” he said.