JOHOR BAHARU, March 4 – For the opposition in Johor, the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat is considered hot, and an opportunity to increase the number of parliamentary seats for the 13th General Election in a Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold. However, the local BN machinery feels that external views regarding the seat being a ‘hot’ seat is merely an assumption and misleading.
Gelang Patah BN chairman Datuk Abdul Aziz Sapian said the parliamentary seat which had a Chinese majority voter base and was being fought for, by both the DAP and PKR, was actually cold, as a result of BN’s hard work all this while.
“The BN machinery in Gelang Patah has worked hard to ease the condition. We are trying to make the situation cool so that Gelang Patah remains blue under BN.
“We have various strategies on how to cool this heat,” the Nusajaya assemblyman and Gelang Patah Umno division chief told Bernama recently.
“We (Gelang Patah BN) have detailed information, and studies on voter trends support our confidence on BN’s opportunity in the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency,” said the former army commando who, however, has refused to share the latest data obtained by BN, regarding voter support in Gelang Patah.
During the 2008 General Election, BN, through MCA candidate Tan Ah Heng, defended the seat by defeating a PKR candidate by about 8,000 votes. The Gelang Patah parliamentary seat has more than 100,000 voters comprising the Nusajaya state assembly seat represented by Abdul Aziz, and Skudai state assembly seat which was won by Johor DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau.
In what was considered as the ‘Battle of the Giants’ in 2008, the Johor DAP chairman defeated Johor Gerakan chairman Datuk Teo Kok Chee by more than 12,000 votes. As the 13th General Election approaches, the opposition is not only confident of retaining the Skudai seat but is also optimistic about snatching the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat from BN.
The opposition’s confidence in Gelang Patah and its 54 per cent Chinese voters has resulted in a serious dispute between DAP and PKR, over which party has the right to put up a candidate and ensure victory for the opposition in Gelang Patah, this time around. For Abdul Aziz, voters in Gelang Patah can distinguish which party fights for their interest and cited Skudai, which was represented by Dr Boo since 2008, as an example.
“Voters in Skudai, especially among the Chinese community, are now questioning their representative (Dr Boo) for playing political games and not focusing on their welfare,” he said.
“Umno prays that no more lives will be lost in the armed intrusion,” he told reporters after a meeting with a 11-member delegation from the Malaysia-Palestine Youth Movement from Gaza at Menara Datuk Onn, here. In SEMPORNA, people who depend on tourism for a living have expressed the hope that the armed intrusion would be resolved soon as their livelihood was affected.
Mahlul Abas, 45, said the issue had prolonged for a month and had affected the tourism industry in Semporna from where domestic and foreign tourists proceed to the diving havens of the Sipadan and Mabul islands.
“Annually, Semporna hosts about 50,000 tourists. As such, an armed conflict of this nature undermines our source of income,” he said.
Mahlul, who operates an agency which provides boats and diving facilities for tourists, said business had become difficult because it was necessary to ensure the safety of tourists and avoid attacks by the intruders. According to Abdul Aziz, current developments show that DAP faces the possibility of losing the Skudai state assembly seat in the general election.
He said the Johor DAP leader was only interested in political power and failed to carry out his duty as a people’s representative and develop Skudai which is situated in the Iskandar Malaysia region. As for Chua Jui Meng, he said the Johor PKR chairman had failed to give attention on several issues in Gelang Patah.
“Even when he had the power, he (Chua) failed to develop Gelang Patah, so what more when he has no power and is with the opposition,” added Abdul Aziz. Meanwhile, the local political observer noted that internal conflict within the Gelang Patah DAP, especially between Dr Boo and several other Indian branch leaders, would affect support from the Indian community.
“The elimination of several Indian DAP branch leaders is expected to effect support from Indians in the 13th General Election,” he said. Former Taman Nesa DAP publicity secretary A. K. Murugan, who was fired from the DAP, was reported saying that Dr Boo failed to help local Indians in various issues.