JOHOR BARU, March 12 — The DAP and MCA are set to launch events on Sunday in Johor to mark the start of their election campaign in the battleground state.
The DAP will be having their 52nd anniversary celebrations in Johor’s Ayer Hitam parliamentary constituency that will also act as a starting point for the party’s election campaign in the southern state.
On the same day, the state MCA will mobilise their Team Johor initiative in the Johor Jaya state seat of the state capital.
This time, DAP’s celebration event will also mark the party’s progress in the southern state, by having it right in central Johor where a major announcement is expected.
Since the party took back Ayer Hitam from Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) last month, it has been widely speculated that Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong will be fielded to go head-on with incumbent MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong from MCA in the 14th general election.
Johor DAP publicity secretary Wong Shu Qi confirmed the party will announce its Ayer Hitam candidate during the anniversary celebration’s on Sunday, but declined to elaborate further.
“However, like our past announcement on (Lim) Kit Siang as the Gelang Patah parliamentary candidate back in 2013, we would like to keep it as a surprise on that day itself,” she said when contacted by Malay Mail today.
Following the previous general election, it is possible that DAP and their Pakatan Harapan (PH) allies will use Ayer Hitam as a springboard for their state campaign.
In the 2013 election, DAP and the then Pakatan Rakyat Opposition pact, which at that time included PAS, launched their Johor campaign in Gelang Patah. Skudai was the centrestage for the Opposition pact’s ceramahs and rallies.
At that time, DAP supremo Lim edged out former Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman by 14,762 votes. Lim picked up 54,284 votes to Ghani’s 39,522.
Wong, who is also the Senai assemblyman, said the event this Sunday is scheduled from 10am to 12pm at the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election centre in Ayer Hitam.
She said it was a major national event for DAP that will see attendance from the party’s top national and state leaders, as well as PH leaders.
The event is scheduled to be attended by the party’s national chairman Tan Kok Wai, deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo, secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, deputy secretary-general Nga Kor Ming.
The party’s Johor state leaders, led by Liew, will also attend.
“We expect a crowd of only about 1,000 people to attend due to space constraints and the short time frame for the event,” said Wong.
For MCA, they are expecting a 5,000-strong crowd to attend the party’s “Support MCA, Strengthen Team Johor” event, held at the Jalan Dedap multipurpose hall in Johor Jaya, Johor Baru, from 2pm to 5pm.
An announcement for the Johor Jaya state seat candidate is expected to be made by MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
It is widely known that Pasir Gudang MCA chairman Tan Cher Puk is the party’s favourite for Johor Jaya, which he had held for two terms before 2013.
In GE13, DAP’s Liow Cai Tung took a 1,460-vote majority with 22,879 votes against Tan’s 21,419 for Johor Jaya.
When contacted, Tan declined to comment on his candidacy and said he will leave it to the MCA’s national leadership and also Barisan Nasional (BN) for endorsement.
“For me, I will still continue to represent MCA and serve the people as I have done in the past,” he said.
On Sunday’s event, Tan said it was a programme under the Team Johor initiative as part of Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin’s vision for the state.
“It’s basically a state BN initiative that is supported by MCA’s national leadership,” he said.
When asked if the choice of Johor Jaya for the event was due to Mohamed Khaled consolidating his power base, Tan said it was possible.
“Datuk Seri’s (Mohamed Khaled) state seat is Permas and together with Johor Jaya, that makes up the Pasir Gudang parliamentary constituency,” he said.
Of late, there are rumours within the state Umno pointing towards Mohamed Khaled contesting both his Permas state seat as well as the Pasir Gudang parliamentary seat for the coming election.