KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — As political parties announced their list of candidates to battle it out in the Johor state election next month, several areas stand to witness intense fights, with hopefuls from different Opposition parties vying for the same seats.

The most controversial ones being the Larkin and Puteri Wangsa state seats, which have locked PKR and the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) in a dispute.

Muda will go against PKR in the Larkin seat on March 12, after an impasse in negotiations between the two Opposition parties over seat allocations.

In a statement today, Muda announced that the party’s state information chief Rasid Abu Bakar will run for the Larkin seat.

PKR had previously announced Zamil Najwah Arbain as its candidate for the said seat, while  Parti Pejuang Tanah Air named Mohamad Riadz Tan Sri Mohamad Hashim.

After the announcement by Muda, news portal Malaysiakini reported Johor PKR deputy chief Jimmy Puah as urging his party to reconsider fielding a candidate in Larkin.

Puah said PKR will not yield in the constituency and will have a meeting to discuss possible responses including retaliation against Muda.

Muda previously announced that it will field secretary-general Amira Aisya in Puteri Wangsa, and despite dissatisfaction from PKR, the latter party has yet to announce any name for the seat, as per its latest list of candidates.

Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, meanwhile, named Khairil Anwar Razali as its candidate for the same seat.

The Puteri Wangsa seat would be a prime target for a PKR reprisal as the party previously complained when it was given to Muda.

Other seats set for an Opposition showdown

At least 18 of the Johor state seats will see battles between PKR, led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and Pejuang, headed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Meanwhile, Pejuang will face Parti Amanah Negara in 15 seats.

Two seats (Tangkak and Paloh) will see DAP and Pejuang locking horns.

Parti Warisan Sabah yesterday announced that it would be contesting for one seat in Bukit Batu, which marks the party’s official entry into Johor. This would see the party locking horns with PKR there.

Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said that Warisan will also announce the actual number of seats being contested as well as candidates within a day or two.

Parit Raja, Machap, Bukit Permai, Bukit Kepong and Tenang will see battles between Muda and Pejuang. Muda is, however, often seen as being politically friendly towards Pejuang.

Fikri Musa, Sangaran Rawisandiran, Azrol Rahani, Afiqah Zulkifli and Lim Wei Jiet will go against Abdul Lateef Mahrani, Datuk Dr Shahruddin Md Salleh, Mokhtar Abdul Wahab, Md Taib Md Suhut and Mohd Fauzi Bachok at the aforementioned respective seats.

PKR, meanwhile, will fight Pejuang at Tiram, Layang-Layang, Buloh Kasap, Pemanis, Gambir, Bukit Naning, Sungai Balang, Semerah, Sri Medan, Semarang, Rengit, Tenggaroh, Pasir Raja, Johor Lama, Tanjung Surat, Benut and Kukup.

Prominent senior lawyer Nizam Bashir Abdul Kariem will be making his entrance into politics through Pejuang and will be contesting for the Rengit state seat, against PKR's Khairuddin A. Rahim.

Meanwhile, Pejuang’s Nornekman Osman, the eldest son of former Johor mentri besar, Datuk Osman Sapian, will be battling for the Kempas seat, against PKR's Napsiah Khamis Maharan. The seat was previously held by his father under Bersatu and fell vacant after his death in December.

The death of Osman, whose party is part of the ruling Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, had left caretaker Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad's state government with a one-seat majority in the Johor state assembly.

Before it was dissolved on January 22, Barisan Nasional (BN) held 16 seats while Bersatu had 11 seats and PAS one.

The Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition controlled 27 seats in the Johor state assembly comprising DAP with 14, Parti Amanah Negara (six) and PKR (seven).