In about-turn, PKR’s William Leong says wants to run again

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PETALING JAYA: PKR’s William Leong says he is willing to run for the party again if given the chance to stand in Selayang, in a one-eighty degree turn from his decision last year not to seek re-election there.

He said his change of heart was prompted by the desire to help fulfil unfinished work.

“I can say that if I am given the seat, I will contest. This is subject to the top leadership’s decision,” he told FMT yesterday.

“The idea of ‘let’s finish the job’ was something that made me want to stand again.”

Leong resigned from the PKR political bureau in August, announcing that he would not seek to run again in protest against the party’s decision to continue negotiating with PAS to avoid three-cornered fights in the 14th general election (GE14).

On Jan 18, a group of grassroots leaders in PKR’s Selayang division submitted a memorandum to party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for Leong to be retained as the constituency’s candidate in GE14.

“We believe there is no other more suitable candidate to be fielded by PKR in view of his performance during the two terms he served in the constituency,” the group’s spokesman, Saharuddin Abu Bakar, had said.

Leong said PKR believed there were no safe seats in the election due to the Election Commission’s (EC) redelineation exercise.

He said surveys and analyses by political pundits on voting patterns were merely predictions and did not represent the real situation during polling day.

“We’ll not know if a particular seat is our stronghold until the day the people vote.”

He said Selayang used to be MCA’s stronghold before the constituents there shifted their support to the opposition in the March 2008 election.

Leong was first elected as Selayang MP in that election, defeating MCA’s Lee Li Yew with a 3,567-vote margin.

In the next election in May 2013, his majority increased to 17,846 votes despite a three-cornered fight with MCA’s Lim Siang Chai, a former deputy finance minister, and Berjasa’s Mohd Hazizi Ab Rahman.

MCA’s Chan Kong Choy was Selayang MP from 1995 to 2008. In the 2004 polls, Chan defeated PKR’s Koh Swe Yong with a margin of 23,226 votes.

Leong, who is a lawyer, said the Chinese votes were firmly behind Barisan Nasional (BN) prior to 2008.

He added that he had faced a tough time when first serving with PKR in Selayang 10 years ago.

“I could not get a place to do my talks, and the locals even refused to let me use their electrical outlets for my loudspeakers,” he said, adding that the opposition had to address the public from the back of a lorry.

‘Possible three-cornered fight with PAS’

Leong also said PAS’ Taman Templar state assemblyman Zaidy Abdul Talib might stand in Selayang to create a three-cornered contest with BN and Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“I would not be surprised if PAS puts him there. He is currently a state executive councillor,” Leong said.

The Selayang parliamentary area encompasses the three state constituencies of Rawang, Taman Templar and Kuang.

Based on the EC’s second notice for the proposed Selangor redelineation exercise, there are a total of 107,695 registered voters in Selayang.

Zaidy (PAS) won Taman Templer with a 7,467-vote majority in 2013, beating Umno’s Subahan Kamal and independent candidate Roslan Basaruddin.

The Rawang seat is currently held by PKR’s Gan Pei Ni, and Kuang by Umno’s Abdul Shukur Idrus.

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