JOHOR BAHRU: Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today hinted that the party may contest in the Tanjung Piai by-election on Nov 16.
Speaking at the opening of the Johor Umno Convention here, Ahmad Zahid said Malay voters wanted change in the area.
“Yes, traditionally, the seat belongs to MCA. We know that 56.9% or 57% of Tanjung Piai voters are Malays. Umno and the Malays in Tanjung Piai want change. MCA also wants to maintain its tradition,” he said, Bernama reported.
“However, we strongly believe that the BN spirit must be maintained. Therefore, a decision on whether Umno or MCA will contest must be made in solidarity and the BN Supreme Council meeting is the proper platform to decide the candidate for the by-election,” he said.
In response, MCA president Wee Ka Siong said there was no point in interpreting Zahid’s indication that Umno could be contesting the by-election.
During a Facebook Q&A session today at MCA headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Wee said BN’s spirit is to be united and there is no such thing as majority against minority, adding that every decision made is by consensus.
He did not want to comment too much because he did not want to appear biased. He said he would wait for BN to make a decision.
Wee said that Zahid had never mentioned MCA not contesting at all, only that a decision would be made at the BN meeting.
“I told him (Zahid) our stance very clearly when I met him. We want this seat. This is our traditional seat,” Wee said.
Zahid said that to win the Tanjung Piai by-election, Umno must come up with pledges to attract voters, and these pledges must focus on spiritual happiness instead of physical development such as grants and allocations.
“The details of the new offers will be discussed by the Johor Umno liaison body and will indirectly be our manifesto for this by-election,” he said.
Johor Umno later said the state body would fully support any candidate nominated by BN.
“We will wholeheartedly support the Tanjung Piai by-election candidate as a team in the spirit of the BN consensus. We will also work with the BN machinery to ensure victory for the candidate that had been chosen mutually,” he said while launching the Tanjung Piai declaration, Bernama reported.
State Umno liaison secretary Samsolbari Jamali said the by-election would be a testing ground for BN following Umno’s national pact with PAS.
Among those present at the state Umno convention were Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan, vice-president Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Johor Umno liaison chairman Hasni Mohamad and Wee Ka Siong.
Ahmad Zahid announced that Hasni will be the Tanjung Piai by-election director and Tanjung Piai Umno division chief Jefridin Atan the director of operations.
The Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election is the ninth by-election after the 14th general election.
The parliamentary seat fell vacant after the death of Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, on Sept 21 from complications following a heart attack. Nomination day will be Nov 2 and early voting is on Nov 12.
Farid, who was also the Tanjung Piai PPBM vice-chief, won the seat after beating MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng and PAS’ Nordin Othman with a majority of 524 votes.