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Tussle over Johor Chinese-majority seats

 | September 5, 2012

PKR claims its multiracial branding gives it a better chance in 'mixed seats' which are in effect Chinese-majority constituencies which DAP has been serving.

PETALING JAYA: PKR and DAP in Johor are yet to resolve their differences in at least three Chinese-majority seats in Johor.

Both parties believe that they each have an upperhand in these constituencies.

The Pakatan Rakyat coalition of PKR, DAP and PAS is aiming to break into the Umno bastion state in the upcoming general election.

The tussle involves the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat, and the Tangkak and Johor Jaya state constituencies. Both PKR and DAP are still in negotiations, said Johor PKR election bureau chief Steven Choong.

It is understood that the Bakri parliamentary seat is also in the list, as the Johor PKR chairman Chua Jui Meng seeks a comeback in his former stronghold, despite the seat being controlled by DAP now.

Interestingly, in all the seats mentioned, the Chinese form the majority of voters – 54% – except for Johor Jaya where the community is at 49%.

The opposition, it seems, is banking on the anti-establishment sentiments of the Chinese community.

Choong admitted that the seats are much sought after because they are “winnable seats”.

He, however, declined to categorise the seats as “Chinese-majority seats”, saying that a Chinese seat should come with at least 70% of Chinese voters.

“There is an unwritten rule that PKR would not get [take] a Chinese seat from DAP because they have been contesting there from the start.

“But we felt the seats we are demanding now are mixed seats, and our track records show PKR did slightly better in obtaining Malay votes in mixed areas,” he told FMT in a phone conversation yesterday.

DAP a better bet

Choong said it is important to have the support from all races to win in those seats.

“It’s better for PKR to field a Chinese or Indian leader,” he said.

Choong also denied requesting the Bakri seat from DAP, saying that there is a consensus in Pakatan not to do so in the winning seats.

DAP’s Er Teck Hwa won the sole parliamentary seat for Pakatan in the 2008 election, after MCA decided not to field Chua, the then incumbent, as candidate.

Meanwhile, Johor DAP chairman Boo Cheng Hau said the party could do better in those seats because it is more popular and has a better service records.

“Certain parties are better known in certain areas,” he told FMT.

Likewise, he also denied pursuing the seats for Chinese votes, saying that Pakatan engaged a non-racial approach in seat distribution.

He said the results from the past election are also “favouring the Rocket” (DAP party symbol).

“Last time there was a three-cornered fight between PKR, DAP and BN in a constituency, and the PKR candidate ended up losing his deposit.

“Over the years, they have never worked in the area,” he said, implying the Johor Jaya seat where DAP’s candidate garnered 3,726 votes in the 2004 election, to PKR’s 1,714 votes.

Boo said DAP is using scientific findings and evidence to prove its case.

PAS not worried

FMT understands that independent pollster Merdeka Centre was recently hired by the party to conduct an opinion poll in Gelang Patah, of which the findings has been given to its coalition partners and national leaders.

“If we can raise more funds, we would like to do it in more constituencies,” Boo said.

With the general election now expected to fall in November, all eyes are on Pakatan.

Will Pakatan be able to resolve its differences in time for the polls? It’s a question uppermost on most observers’ mind.

Coalition partner PAS, however, isn’t too concerned.

PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said 90% of the seat allocation in Johor has been finalised.

“Only two or three parliamentary and state seats remain hard nuts to crack. But generally [Johor Pakatan] is in a very good form,” he said.


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