Key opposition leaders may move out of their safe seats to contest elsewhere in an attempt to seize control of the administrative capital.
Realising that some of the traditional Barisan Nasional strongholds must be captured in order to take control of the federal government in the general election, it is believed that the leaders of Pakatan Rakyat are planning to move out from their safe seats and contests in key parliamentary constituencies which are currently held by BN.
This strategy is necessary if Pakatan is to win at least 110 seats to form the next federal government as claimed by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
As a first move of this nationwide strategy, the Pandan parliamentary seat in Selangor currently held by former MCA president Ong Tee Kiat has been identified and PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli has been named as the Pakatan candidate.
Another strategic move that is being contemplated is fielding DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang in Segamat, Johor, which is considered to be a safe seat for BN. The seat has been held by MIC for several terms and currently its MP is Dr S Subramaniam, a Cabinet minister and MIC deputy president.
Segamat has 44,873 voters with Chinese forming 47%, Malays 43% and Indians 10%. It is an ideal seat for Kit Siang to wrest from BN. DAP has always contested in the seat but never won it even once.
Kit Siang will easily garner the majority of the Chinese votes and with a little support from PKR, PAS and Indian voters he will easily romp home with victory.
One MIC leader from Segamat said: “For some time there has been talk that PKR vice-president Chua Jui Meng will contest in Segamat and lately there are talks that Kit Siang will take on Subramaniam.”
“Only a person of Kit Siang’s stature will be able to win Segamat. It will be an uphill task for an ordinary DAP leader as Subramaniam is a Cabinet minister.”
In 2008, Subramaniam won the Segamat seat by a majority of only 2,991 votes. Therefore it will not be difficult for Kit Siang to tilt the balance in favour of DAP.
In comparison, his current seat Ipoh Timur, a Chinese-majority seat in Perak, can easily be won by any other DAP candidate or even a newcomer. In 2008, Kit Siang won Ipoh Timur with a thumping majority of 21,942 votes.
Kit Siang’s move will also fall in line with Pakatan’s strategy of declaring Johor as the frontline state of the opposition in the coming general election.
PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub is expected to contest in Johor in the 13th general election as it is his home state. The other leader who is expected to contest in Johor is Chua, the former MP of Bakri, Johor.
Since Bakri is traditionally contested by DAP, Chua is said to be eyeing Gelang Patah which has 54% Chinese voters. PKR contested in that seat in 2008.
With these expected moves, Johor, which has always been hailed as a BN stronghold will become the focus state for Pakatan in the polls.
Anwar to move to KL or S’gor?
Similarly PKR leaders are also said to be plotting to oust key Umno leaders by moving out from their traditionally safe seats. A classic example was Anwar’s daughter Nurul Izzah ousting Shahrizat Abdul Jalil in Lembah Pantai in 2008.
Since Permatang Pauh is considered to be a safe seat for PKR, Anwar himself may be moving out to contest in Kuala Lumpur or Selangor, according to PKR sources.
Anwar may contest in Sepang or Sabak Bernam in Selangor which are currently held by BN and were contested by PKR in 2008.
Nurul Nuha, the second daughter of Anwar, may even contest in Permatang Pauh and will be assisted by her mother and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who herself was the former MP of that constituency.
Wan Azizah will not be able to contest for a parliamentary seat for five years since she resigned as a MP in 2009 to pave the way for her husband to contest in Permatang Pauh.
Pakatan sources said one reason why key leaders of the opposition opt to stay in their safe seats is that they can travel all over the country to campaign for their respective parties without worrying about their own seats.
If they choose a new seat then they will be bogged down in their own constituency and will not be able to contribute to their respective parties in other keenly contested areas.
However, if the key traditional strongholds of BN seats are not captured, then Pakatan will not be able to get the required numbers to form the next federal government.
The only way to do this is for the Pakatan’s big guns to move out of their safe havens to take on the BN leaders in their respective strongholds.
RJ Rajah is an observer and writer on politics and social issues.