JOHOR BARU, Feb 13 — DAP’s recent decision to take back the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat in the state has strained its relationship with Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), according to Pakatan Harapan sources.
Both political parties are seen as main entities under the state Opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) pact and it is understood discussions at national level are ongoing to settle the matter soon.
PH sources told Malay Mail today that the latest action by DAP in claiming back the seat has caused embarrassment to the state Amanah leadership.
“Previously, Amanah was seen as an important pillar for PH in Johor and was also declared as a frontline state for the party. But now, Johor Amanah feels shortchanged following the Ayer Hitam seat issue and also several other decisions pertaining to both parliament and state seat allocations.
“This latest issue has put a strain on the relationship between the state leadership of the two parties,” said the sources.
Last Saturday, DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke said the party has decided to take back the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat to contest.
Loke claimed that the change was due to the fact that Amanah now has 12 state seats in Johor, which he said was considered substantial. Given that DAP was unable to add another state seat, they decided to take back Ayer Hitam, he said.
Prior to that on January 12, DAP announced that it would give way to an Amanah candidate to contest in Ayer Hitam as part of PH’s strategy to capture the state.
The sources revealed that unhappiness within the state party’s leadership could be seen earlier this year when Amanah’s request to contest five parliamentary seats in the state was turned down and instead allocated only two seats.
“The state leadership, under Aminolhuda Hassan, also boycotted PH’s convention in Kuala Lumpur.
“Then came the issue of state seats where Johor Amanah aimed for more than 14, but in the end they had to settle for only 12 which was another letdown,” said the sources.
The sources said Johor Amanah feels that the announcement was unfair as the state party has sacrificed more than any of the other Opposition component parties in Johor PH.
Another PH source, who is familiar with the current parliamentary seat tussle, is confident the issue will not jeapordise Johor PH’s plans as it is mainly a DAP and Amanah problem.
“The two parties are aware of this and we believe that they are doing their best to settle the issue soon for the sake of Johor PH.
“We were told discussions at the national level are in progress and hopefully both sides can come to a amicable decision on the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat within the next few days,” said the source.
When contacted, Aminolhuda said that the matter of the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat will be left to Amanah’s national leadership to decide.
“I’m sorry, I have no comment on the issue as it’s a parliament seat and falls under the jurisdiction of Amanah’s national leadership,” he said.
The Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat, strategically located in central Johor, comprises 56 per cent Malays, Chinese (38) and Indians (4).
The current incumbent is Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Wee, who is the MCA deputy president and Minister in Prime Minister’s Department has held the seat for the last three terms.
In 2013, Wee defended the seat against PAS’ Hu Pang Chaw with 22,045 votes against 14,735 votes.