PONTIAN, Oct 16 — With the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election nearing, a potential candidate for Pakatan Harapan (PH) has been mentioned among the community’s grassroots.
In recent weeks, Tanjung Piai Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) grassroots sources have touted Darwis Saleh, a local community leader, as a potential candidate.
According to a source close to the Bersatu leadership, Darwis was seen as a capable candidate for PH due to his past work and familiarity with Tanjung Piai.
“For us, any chance of PH retaining the seat will possibly depend on the candidate’s capability in also securing Barisan Nasional’s (BN) traditional voters as well.
“At present, Darwis, who is the Pekan Nenas Timur Bersatu branch chief, is among those who is seen as being capable,” the source told Malay Mail today on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
The source added that it was important that PH fields a candidate known to both sides of the political divide.
“The ideal PH candidate should be a community leader who can garner support from all segments of society and look past political differences to bridge the gap in Tanjung Piai,” said the source.
Checks by Malay Mail revealed that Darwis is a known Tanjung Piai community leader with more than 30 years of experience in politics.
The 56-year-old is a businessman, who is a Pekan Nenas local, is said to have worked behind the scenes in the past and is a known grassroots leader.
He is also the older brother to former Kukup assemblyman Suhaimi Saleh.
Another source said Darwis was seen as a possible candidate as he has the ability to look beyond politics to settle any known issues.
“As a seasoned local community leader, his approach is to look at relationships, friendships and family ties,” said the source in reference to the Tanjung Piai’s community where close-knit family ties are a well-known factor.
Recently, rumours about Suhaimi’s return to active politics as a PH candidate for Tanjung Piai surfaced on social media.
His name was also linked to his brother Darwis, who is now with Bersatu.
The two brothers were once part of the Tanjung Piai Umno division prior to the 2018 general election.
However, it could not be determined if Suhaimi is still an Umno member.
Tanjung Piai has a total of 52,986 voters, of which 280 are early voters.
The Tanjung Piai by-election is the ninth after the 14th general election (GE14) held in May last year.
It is also the 14th by-election in Johor’s history since independence, the last being the Tenang state by-election in 2011.
The Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election was triggered after incumbent, Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, died of heart complications on September 21.
Dr Md Farid, who was from PH’s Bersatu, won the seat in the GE14 after he defeated MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng who represented BN by only 524 votes in a three-cornered contest. The third candidate is Nordin Othman from PAS who had secured 2,962 votes.
The Tanjung Piai constituency is a mixed seat with 57 per cent Malays, 42 per cent Chinese and 1 per cent Indian.
The seat has been traditionally been contested by MCA and DAP since 2004. In 2018, DAP gave the seat to Bersatu to contest under its PH campaign.