by Pathma Subramaniam, fz.com
DAP says its announcement of Himpunan Hijau chairperson Wong Tack as the party's candidate for the Bentong parliamentary constituency was made with the blessings of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng had made the announcement at a press conference yesterday, saying Wong will contest under the DAP banner. This is despite the fact that PKR had contested the seat in the 2008 polls.
Contacted today, DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke, who is privy to talks on seats negotiation among Pakatan Rakyat parties, insisted that DAP only called for the press conference after confirming the matter with Anwar, who is also the Opposition Leader.
The announcement has caused discord among Pahang Pakatan leaders, with state PKR chief Datuk Fauzi Abdul Rahman claiming that he was not aware of the decision. He told fz.com that "as far as Pahang PKR is concerned, we will put up our own candidate."
Loke, however, said this could be because the decision had probably not been relayed to the state PKR yet.
"When Wong had expressed his interest, they (PKR) found out about it and insisted that Wong contest under PKR's ticket. But we had already made the offer earlier," he told fz.com.
Pahang DAP chief Leong Ngah Ngah, meanwhile, pointed out that the Bentong seat - currently represented by Health Minister and MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai - had traditionally been contested by the DAP prior to the 2008 election.
In 2008, Pakatan fielded candidates in all 14 parliamentary constituencies in the state, with PKR contesting six seats and winning two - Indera Mahkota and Kuantan.
The DAP contested in the Cameron Highlands and Raub parliamentary constituencies but lost in both. It just managed to win two - Traing and Tras - of the seven state seats it contested.
Although DAP had traditionally contested in Bentong and Raub, it gave up Bentong and went for Cameron Highlands in 2008.
Leong refused to comment on the switch, saying these are "internal party matters".
The DAP veteran also refused to divulge if the party would give up a seat now that it is contesting in Bentong again.
"Nevertheless, I don't think there will be a three-cornered fight for the (Bentong) seat. It will be one against another," he said.
PKR deputy president Azmin Ali told fz.com that Bentong is among the seats still being discussed by a Pakatan committee which oversees seats negotiations. He noted that PKR's G Ponusamy had lost there in 2008 and DAP was keen to contest there this time.
"I can't share what was discussed at our last meeting on Feb 27 but if they are now gunning for Bentong, what are the seats they are willing to swap with us?," he said.
He added that in principle Pakatan partners only discussed about areas where their contenders had previously lost, and the choice of candidates is solely the prerogative of the respective parties.