KUALA LUMPUR, March 16 — DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang will contest the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency in Johor as part of the party’s push for more federal seats, say party leaders.
The DAP will also contest Segamat, Kluang, Kulai, Tanjung Piai, Labis and Bakri in the Barisan Nasional (BN) political fortress state to help Pakatan Rakyat (PR) win federal power in the national polls that are expected to be called in weeks.
“We want to win a cluster of new seats in Johor and help take over federal government because it is 50-50 at the moment,” a party leader told The Malaysian Insider today on condition of anonymity.
“Although Gelang Patah was won by MCA the last round with over 8,000 votes, it’s worth the risk,” he added.
PKR contested in Gelang Patah in the past two general elections, but lost both times to Johor Wanita MCA chief Tan Ah Eng. Tan kept the seat in Election 2008 with a majority of 8,851 votes, a smaller majority than the overwhelming 31,666-vote majority in 2004.
Chinese voters make up 54 per cent in the constituency, while Malays and Indians make up 34 per cent and 12 per cent respectively.
Lim’s bid to contest in Gelang Patah, which is about 25km from Johor Baru, will quell the tension between the state’s DAP and PKR chapters that erupted publicly last month.
Johor DAP chief Dr Boo Cheng Hau had accused Johor PKR leader Datuk Chua Jui Meng of sabotaging the DAP in the southern state.
Chua, who was previously a veteran MCA leader and health minister, is believed to have his sights set on contesting in Gelang Patah in Election 2013.
“The seats in south Johor that can be won by DAP and PR are Gelang Patah, Johor Baru, Tebrau, Kulai, Pasir Gudang and Pulai,” another party leader told The Malaysian Insider today on condition of anonymity.
Lim, who is the Ipoh Timur MP, wrested the Tanjung parliamentary seat in Penang in 1986 from Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and also won the Kampung Kolam state seat. The DAP supremo also helped his party sweep nine other state seats in that year in what was known as the Battle of Tanjung.
In Election 2008, Chinese voters formed nearly half of Segamat’s electorate, with Malays at 41 per cent and Indians at 11 per cent.
PR is confident that it can wrest Segamat by riding on the strong anti-establishment sentiment among the Chinese voters.
It is learnt that Johor BN leaders estimate the present Chinese support to be at 30 per cent, 10 per cent more than its initial “pessimistic” estimates, and are aiming to increase it to 40 per cent once the state’s BN chapter enters into the final lap of its polls campaign.
PR leaders have said they are confident of denting BN’s Johor fortress with the help of Chinese support but admitted that capturing the state would be hard in light of the difficulties in securing the Malay vote.
Despite sweeping Penang, Perak, Kedah, Selangor and Kelantan in Election 2008, the loose coalition of PAS, PKR and the DAP won just one federal and six state seats out of 26 and 56 seats respectively in Johor.