PONTIAN, Oct 31 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Umno did not field a candidate as Barisan Nasional representative in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election because it was afraid of losing.
“Umno is scared. I know because if it puts (an Umno candidate), it will lose. We are confident of winning regardless of the candidate they are fielding. It would be even better if it is Umno but they are choose MCA (as BN representative),” he said.
The prime minister was speaking to reporters at a Leader with People Session at Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Bin Chong, here in conjunction with a one-day working visit to Johor today.
Dr Mahathir who is also Bersatu chairman was asked to comment on BN’s move to field the former incumbent Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng, 55, from MCA in the Tanjung Piai by-election and not a candidate from Umno as touted earlier.
Wee who was Tanjung Piai MP for two terms from 2008 to 2018, also contested in the seat in the 14th general election but was defeated by PH candidate Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafiq.
On Monday, Tanjung Piai Bersatu division chief Karmaine Sardini, 66, was named PH candidate for the by-election. Karmaine who hailed from Pontian is the son a local religious figure and also Johor Bersatu Religious Bureau chairman and he had served as imam of Al-Muttaqin Mosque in Johor Baru.
In the 14th general election, Karmaine contested in the Pontian parliamentary seat but lost to BN’s Datuk Ahmad Maslan by only 833 votes.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir said Karmaine is capable of bringing victory and retain the seat for PH and the government.
“I believe the candidate can fulfil his pledges. He is familiar with the constituency and would receive support from the government (to fulfil his pledges). I am happy to be here. We will work to ensure he is successful. This is our hope,” he said to thunderous applause from local residents.
In his speech, Dr Mahathir also said that only the candidate from the government is capable of fulfilling his pledges compared to the Opposition camp which is only good at making empty promises.
He stressed that the by-election is not the place to change government because the pledges of the Opposition cannot be met as it does not have the mandate and power compared to the government candidate.
“Whoever wins or loses, the government is still PH. Why did I say no change? Because the Opposition is only good at making promises (during the by-election) but if they win, they cannot meet their promises as they are not the government.
“But if PH wins, we will fulfil our pledges. Our intention is to assist and prosper the people especially in the rural areas. There are differences in terms of village, state, race and community as wealth is unevenly distributed and can create resentment. But if we can reduce the income gap, the difference will not appear that big among the people,” he said.
The Election Commission (EC) set November 2 as nomination day and November 16 as polling day for the parliamentary by-election.
The by-election was held following the death of its incumbent Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, of heart complications on Sept 21. In the 14th general election, Dr Md Farid won the seat after polling 21,255 votes to defeat Wee (20,731 votes) and PAS candidate Nordin Othman (2,962 votes). — Bernama