JOHOR BARU, Oct 5 — Will it be an Umno or MCA candidate for the upcoming November 16 by-election in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat?
To Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, the choice of party is less important than the ability of the candidate to secure a win for the Opposition Barisan Nasional (BN).
He said the decision will be based on consensus within the three-party coalition of Umno, MCA and MIC — even if the Malay party has now formed a close partnership with Islamist PAS.
“BN will only decide on the candidate for the seat after a study is made.
“The BN supreme council meeting is the best place for us to decide who will contest the Tanjung Piai by-election where we will officially announce the candidate before November 2, which is the nomination date for the by-election,” the BN chairman told reporters after officiating the Johor Umno Convention 2019 at the Trove Hotel here today.
Also present was Johor Umno chief Datuk Hasni Muhammad, his deputy Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed and the party’s state leadership, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, Johor MIC chairman R. Vidyanathan and state deputy PAS commissioner Khairul Faizi Ahmad Kamil.
Tanjung Piai has traditionally been considered the domain of the BN’s Chinese party, but grassroots Umno members have recently been pushing to contest the federal seat, believing they have a better chance as 57 per cent of voters there are now Malay.
Zahid, who is also Umno president, said MCA should be open minded just like how MIC was for the Cameron Highlands by-election.
“I am not ruling out possibilities, but it is important for us to beat Pakatan Harapan and help our candidate to win, which should be our target,” he said, adding that he was confident BN would win the by-election.
“Nothing is impossible. However, Umno must not sideline MCA and the Chinese voters there to uphold our spirit of brotherhood,” said Zahid, adding that BN was still discussing the candidacy with the other component parties.
The Bagan Datuk MP also named Hasni as BN’s Tanjung Piai by-election director who will be assisted by Tanjung Piai Umno division chief Datuk Jefridin Atan as its operation director.
The Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election was triggered by the death of its incumbent Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, following a heart attack last month.
Nomination day for Tanjung Piai falls on November 2, providing an official campaign period of two weeks.