Malaysia

Tee Keat says never met PKR on Pandan candidacy

The incumbent MP said in a Twitter posting here that claims his supporters have approached PKR, as reported in The Malaysian Insider today, were ludicrous as there have never been face-to-face meetings with the opposition party to discuss the possibility.

"Just spoken 2 media 2 refute d alleged outreach of mine 2 PKR. it's a joke 2 me as no single soul from any party has ever met me 4 eyes," he tweeted from the ongoing Chap Goh Meh celebration in his constituency this evening.

Earlier this morning, The Malaysian Insider reported that PKR's leadership had once considered Ong as PKR's candidate in Pandan for Election 2013 but shelved the suggestion in favour of its strategic director Rafizi Ramli.

A PKR source told this news portal that the consideration was made after Ong's MCA followers "sent out feelers" to PKR leaders on the possibility of Ong contesting on a PKR ticket.

But without the former MCA president's actual confirmation, the source said, the party had decided not to take the matter seriously.

"We never actually heard from him even though his people had made representation on his behalf," the source told The Malaysian Insider.

"But there was a clear indication of Ong's, or his people's, intention. Only that it appeared he was just testing waters through his people so there was never anything really concrete."

The source pointed out that the time when the matter was raised, it had also appeared likely that Ong was Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's favoured choice for Pandan.

Najib is scheduled to attend this evening's Chap Goh Meh event in Pandan, along with Ong.

Ong, who was deposed as MCA president by his current successor Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek during a fractious power struggle in 2010, has been the Pandan MP for five terms now.

But earlier this week, Dr Chua told reporters at a Chinese New Year gathering that the Pandan MCA division had excluded him from its list of possible candidate choices for Election 2013.

Instead, said Dr Chua, the division had proposed 39-year-old lawyer Gary Lim, the division's legal bureau head.

This was immediately denied, however, and a majority of the party division's leadership held an emergency meeting on Friday to clarify that they have yet to meet to discuss possible candidates for Pandan and had therefore not decided to propose Lim.

There have been much speculation on the possibility of Ong defecting to the opposition as the leader grew more isolated from his MCA peers over the years but the Pandan MP never confirmed the possibility.

His open tiff with Dr Chua, however, continued to fuel the rumours and when the latter announced that his predecessor had been dropped from MCA's list, the same speculation reignited.

Despite the current confusion over who will really represent BN in the coming polls in Pandan, talk remains that Ong is still the candidate favoured by senior leaders in Umno to contest the seat due to his personal popularity among constituents there.

Observers also believe that the best chance for BN to retain the seat is to field Ong, especially with Rafizi as Pakatan Rakyat's (PR) contender for the seat.

Rafizi, 35, who in the last year has made a name for himself with a series of exposes like the National Feedlot scandal, is already a household name with his many appearances in the media and various opposition ceramahs around the country.

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