PONTIAN, Nov 1 — The decision to put forward Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng from MCA as the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election shows the coalition is not “racist”, its adviser Datuk Seri Najib Razak asserted today.
The former prime minister also believes BN’s spirit of unity will sway voters in the Johor constituency to return it on November 16, though they voted for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in GE14 last year.
“Acceptance of BN’s candidate, Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng, has been gaining positive traction among coalition members and supporters despite initially wanting Umno to contest,” Najib told reporters when met at Rumah Warisan Bugis in Serkat here.
The former BN chairman was in town to campaign for the Opposition coalition and joined the local Andek Mori community for Friday prayers and lunch in Serkat upon arrival, despite another case of “red eyes” that kept him out of court for the past two days for his 1MDB trial in which he is accused of misappropriating millions of ringgit.
Najib whose left eye looked a little swollen behind his glasses claimed that BN members, including Umno, have accepted the decision by the coalition’s top leadership to field a candidate from MCA who will guarantee victory, proving that BN is a party that practises openness.
“This also shows that we are not racist or narrow minded, but fight for all rakyat,” he said.
The Pekan MP said BN made a similar decision during the 1989 Ampang Jaya by-election when it picked MCA’s Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat against former Selangor mentri besar the late Datuk Harun Idris who was on a Semangat 46 ticket.
“He was going against a legend in the political scene and it was a critical moment for Umno at the time as we had also lost the Johor Baru parliamentary seat to Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad who was with Semangat 46 at the time.
“But MCA was able to deliver a win for us through the spirit of the BN members and supporters that put the coalition above all else,” said Najib, of the 1989 by-election result.
Najib then accused the PH government of failing to develop Johor over the past year after winning the state.
He cited PH’s non-continuation of BN’s past plans for the southern state such as the High-Speed Rail and the widening of four lanes to six lanes along the North-South Expressway between the Yong Peng-Johor Baru stretch as examples of Johor’s current slow development.
Wee will be going against PH’s Karmaine Sardini from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and also Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam in the by-election.
It is possible that a fourth candidate may emerge from Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra), a new Malay-based political party founded by Datuk Ibrahim Ali. He previously said Putra will field its own candidate if the BN chose a non-Malay.
The Election Commission has set tomorrow as Nomination Day and November 16 as polling day for the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election.
The by-election was triggered after its MP Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik died of heart complications on September 21.
Dr Md Farid won the seat in the previous general election after he defeated BN’s Wee and PAS’ Nordin Othman in a three-way contest.
The Tanjung Piai constituency is a mixed seat comprising 57 per cent Malays, 42 per cent Chinese and 1 per cent Indians.
The seat was traditionally contested by MCA and DAP since 2004. In 2018, DAP ceded the seat to Bersatu to contest under its PH campaign.