Soi Lek: 50-50 chance of MCA ceding Gelang Patah to Umno

by Clara Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
April 11, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 – Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said today it is still a toss-up between MCA and Umno for the Gelang Patah contest, despite strong indicators pointing to Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman as Barisan Nasional’s (BN) likely candidate.

The MCA president told a press conference here that no decision has been made, even reminding pressmen to report him saying that the chances of a seat swap between Umno and MCA in Gelang Patah was still 50-50.

“We are still negotiating,” he said, before a reporter asked if MCA would cede the seat to Umno.

“Maybe yes and maybe no. You must write maybe yes and maybe no to be fair to me… if not, I will call and scold you,” he added.

Ceding the Gelang Patah seat to Umno, however, would mean MCA loses another federal seat in the coming polls contest, narrowing its chances to make a bigger comeback in Election 2013.

MCA, BN’s second-largest component party, suffered an embarrassing polls defeat in Election 2008 when its parliamentary representation was slashed by nearly half from 31 to just 15 seats.

The fight for the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat is shaping up to be a heated one with Lim’s entry into the battle and the possibility of Abdul Ghani’s contest.

Dr Chua (picture) was asked to face Lim for the contest but sources said the former minister declined the offer, leaving BN to consider other choices for what is expected to be the hottest battle in Umno’s home state of Johor.

The Malaysian Insider also understands that Abdul Ghani had offered himself up to fight the DAP adviser but an unsettled Malay ground and pro-opposition Chinese voters could scuttle those plans.

“Some in the BN war room thought it would be a titanic fight and that Dr Chua is strong enough to face Kit but the MCA president said no,” a BN source told The Malaysian Insider, referring to the veteran opposition leader by his moniker Kit.

“Now other choices are being considered as the final list must be ready by Tuesday,” the source added.

PR announced last month that Lim was to run in Gelang Patah, and spearhead the opposition pact’s push to pick up more federal seats in Johor. Soi Lek was then dared by the DAP to face Lim but the MCA president declined the challenge last week.

The MCA had earlier named local division leader Jason Teoh to run in the federal seat won by Johor Wanita MCA chief and deputy national vice-chairman Tan Ah Eng in Election 2008 when she retained the seat by defeating PKR’s Zaliha Mustafa by 8,851 votes.

Lim’s political arch-foe Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad called the move from Ipoh TImor “ridiculous”, calling BN members to bury the DAP adviser’s political career and said the local Chinese would not give support.

Lim then asked Dr Mahathir to run against him but was turned down. Since then, MCA-controlled newspaper The Star has been reporting that Ghani was popular with the electorate and would be ideal to face the veteran DAP leader.

However, it is learnt that BN has not included the caretaker Johor mentri besar in its candidates list due to a pushback from the local Malay community upset with rising costs and being elbowed out of the fast-developing and pricy Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor.

The 67-year-old Umno leader has been a four-term MB but it is understood that BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants to put in younger and “winnable” candidates to helm the Umno home state.

“Najib has promised at least 40 per cent new faces and he wants those who are capable of pushing Iskandar Malaysia even higher,” said an Umno source, confirming that Ghani’s name is not on any list.

He cited Ghani’s frosty ties with the Johor palace as one of the main reasons that the state leader is being dropped, adding: “That’s why he is free to offer himself for Gelang Patah because there is no seat for him.”

It is understood that caretaker Higher Education Minister Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin and UDA Holdings chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed are in a short list to replace Ghani as Johor MB if BN keeps the southern state.

“BN needs to put someone strong there as every parliamentary seat is crucial in this election. But Dr Chua doesn’t want and Ghani is willing but there are issues that could cut his support,” the Umno source said.

“We’ll find out soon enough but it won’t be a titanic fight now,” he added.

Some 13.3 million voters, including 5,200 abroad, are eligible to cast their ballots in Election 2013 to elect lawmakers in 222 federal and 505 state seats in 12 states. Sarawak already held its state elections in 2011.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Friday, 12 April 2013 - 7:07 am

    CSL, stop worrying. Your good boss, Najib, will make decision for you!

  2. #2 by SENGLANG on Friday, 12 April 2013 - 9:40 am

    LKS is the catalyst for change. This is the main reason why BN is worrying about. MCA is fighting a lost battle. The Chinese saying before the war drum sound they have been defeated. MCA know very will they can’t rely on Chinese votes. LKS take on GP will create a serious threat on BN and MCA has totally lost its confidence facing LKS at GP. The best to stand down is offering to UMNO and UMNO is much happier to offer Ghani whom many in UMNO want to get rid of him.

  3. #3 by good coolie on Friday, 12 April 2013 - 5:06 pm

    Poor non-“winnable fellows” of MCA. I hope the same thing happens to the other puppets (MIC). I take this opportunity to wish the best to all well-meaning politicians from these two parties. It is too bad you are doomed.

  4. #4 by Winston on Saturday, 13 April 2013 - 8:12 am

    Ceding Gelang Patah to UMNO is small change!!!
    He has even ceded the all the power in his party to UMNO in exchange for the crumbs received all these decades.
    Don’t pretend that Malaysians don’t realise that!!!
    We know what the scums have been doing the last fifty-six summers!!!!!

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