Johor DAP confirms yielding Ayer Hitam to Amanah

Johor DAP chief and Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong explaining the party’s decision on both the Ayer Hitam and Tanjung Piai parliamentary constituencies, in Pekan Nenas, January 12, 2018. — Picture by Ben Tan
Johor DAP chief and Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong explaining the party’s decision on both the Ayer Hitam and Tanjung Piai parliamentary constituencies, in Pekan Nenas, January 12, 2018. — Picture by Ben Tan

PONTIAN, Jan 12 — The state chapter of DAP has confirmed that it will make way for Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) to contest its Ayer Hitam federal seat in the 14th general election.

It is understood that the decision was reached at state-level negotiations between the two parties, following Johor Amanah’s boycott of the Pakatan Harapan convention last weekend after it received just two of the five seats sought.

Amanah was then given only Pulai and Parit Sulong, while the younger and smaller Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) received 10.

Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong said the decision was a tactical one to strengthen the Opposition pact’s reach into the state that is birthplace of Umno and considered a Barisan Nasional bastion.

“It’s not an easy task, but the decision was supported by the other PH members to give BN a run for their money in Ayer Hitam which was previously considered a white area or safe seat for the ruling party.

“In Ayer Hitam, we will go head-on with MCA’s Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong, who is the second person (MCA deputy president) and also number one in Johor (state MCA chairman),” he said at a media conference in Pekan Nenas here today.

The Ayer Hitam parliamentary constituency has been a Johor BN stronghold since its creation in 1974 until the constituency was abolished after 1986. It again became a BN fortress from 2004 till the present.

MCA’s Wee is the three-term incumbent MP for Ayer Hitam. In the 13th general election. Wee retained the seat with a majority of 7,310 votes.

Liew, who is also Kluang MP, said the decision was also explained to local party members, whom he said accepted the move in the interest of PH’s larger ambition of winning federal power.

However, he declined to reveal the Amanah candidate for Ayer Hitam.

The decision confirms earlier rumours that DAP would allow an Amanah candidate to compete in the Ayer Hitam seat, despite losing two seats in Johor and Melaka for it.

On a related matter, Liew claimed PH’s federal seat allocations in peninsular Malaysia last week will increase the pact’s chances of winning Ayer Hitam and Tanjung Piai. The latter constituency has been handed over to PPBM.

“Tanjung Piai, Ayer Hitam and the Titiwangsa parliamentary seats were among the last seats that were finalised in the negotiations.

“This is a last minute plan for PH as Ayer Hitam is now not considered as a BN bastion, while both Tanjung Piai and Ayer Hitam were considered BN white areas.

“But at last week’s PH convention, we believe that BN could lose in those two constituencies based on our strength and understanding in both areas,” he said.

Liew also quashed talks that he would be returning to contest in Penang in the general election.

He said his commitment was with Johor DAP and the state PH.

“In fact, I will be leading Johor DAP for the coming general election,” said Liew.

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