Umno threatens to sabotage MCA if it contests, MCA makes it clear it will pursue its right to the seat.
As Barisan Nasional (BN) prepares for the Tanjung Piai by-election, trouble is brewing within the coalition. Two of its parties, Umno and MCA, are gunning for the chance to retake the seat from Pakatan Harapan (PH), and neither has shown any indication that they would make way for the other.
Umno, rejuvenated after it struck a deal with PAS, is not only flexing its muscles but has threatened to sabotage the MCA campaign if the party is given the opportunity to contest the seat again.
MCA has yet to recover from the bruising it received in the 14th general election but has made it clear that it will pursue its right to the seat.
Traditionally, the seat has been contested by MCA and was once held by former party president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting.
In the last general election, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Farik wrested it from MCA incumbent Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng by a paper-thin margin of 1.17%.
That has not prevented MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon from feeling confident enough to push for the fielding of a candidate from his party. He has made it clear that MCA will not make way for Umno.
On the other hand, Umno’s Tanjung Piai division is adamant that its chief, Datuk Jefridin Atan, should be the flag-bearer for BN this time.
Unofficially, the division has made it quite clear that MCA’s campaign could be open to sabotage if the party is given the ticket to contest.
Jefridin, when contacted, made it very clear that the division wants the seat and has already proposed him as the candidate.
While he did not want to discuss the sabotage threat, he stated unequivocally that the seat should be Umno’s, given that MCA had failed to win voter support and had fared poorly in the last elections.
“We have called for a division meeting in preparation for the by-election. Our will to contest this seat is very strong,” he told The Sun.
Meanwhile, the top leaders of Umno and MCA have chosen to play down the issue
Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said both parties have the right to express their “political strength”.
He acknowledged that MCA had always contested in Tanjung Piai but now, Umno felt it should be picked given that this was a Malay-majority constituency.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong described the allegation of a sabotage as a PH ploy to undermine BN.
The Tanjung Piai seat fell vacant when its representative Md Farid died on Sept 21. The 42-year-old, who was also deputy minister in the prime minister’s department, polled 21,255 votes in the last elections compared to Wee’s 30,731 votes, giving him a 524-vote majority.
Nordin Othman of PAS came in a distant third with 2,962 votes.
Umno has expressed confidence that the votes that went to PAS would come their way if there was a straight fight.
The Election Commission has announced that nomination day has been fixed for Nov 2 and if there is a contest, polling day will be on Nov 16. Early voting for the by-election has been set on Nov 12. – The Sun Daily
Related report: Oct 1, Umno Demands Tg Piai Seat, Threatens Sabotage if MCA Stands