Selangor Pakatan scramble for seats after councillors’ reshuffle

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 — The recent reshuffle of Selangor local councillors is set to escalate into heavy infighting over state and parliamentary seats in the next general election, as Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties seek to consolidate their areas of influence.

After the PKR-dominated state government decided to remove the sole Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) councillor from the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) last month, the PR-friendly party has been demanding the Subang parliamentary seat.

Subang is now held by human rights activist and lawyer-turned-politician Sivarasa Rasiah from PKR.

In Election 2004, PSM’s Dr Nasir Hashim and V. Paneerselvam contested in the Subang and Bukit Lanjan state constituencies respectively under the PKR banner because the socialist party’s registration had not been approved. Both Nasir and Paneerselvam lost to Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates.

In the last general election, Nasir contested in the Kota Damansara state constituency and won, while Bukit Lanjan and Subang were contested by PKR candidates as part of an arrangement among the opposition parties to ensure straight fights with BN.

Bukit Lanjan was won by PKR, while BN controls another state constituency in Subang, Paya Jaras. Subsequently, PSM’s registration was approved in June 2008, almost ten years after its application was submitted.

“Since winning Kota Damansara, PSM has increased its presence in Subang. Dr Nasir’s track record as assemblyman has strengthened our case to take back Subang,” said a PSM source familiar with the seat allocation agreement in the constituency.  

“We are not discounting the possibility of a three-cornered fight in Subang, we are very sure PKR, too, wants to make a claim for Kota Damansara as the seat was contested under [the] PKR banner last time,” he added.

After taking over Selangor, the PR government promised PSM two councillor posts in MBPJ and the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) — two municipalities which partly fall within the Kota Damansara constituency.

PSM is also represented in the Kajang Municipal Council as the party’s candidate had contested in Semenyih but lost. 

However, in the annual reshuffle of MBPJ councillors last month, Paneerselvam was dropped and replaced with a PKR representative.

When contacted Paneerselvam, who is also the chairman of Subang PSM, confirmed that the party local leaders have been making moves to claim the parliamentary seat.

However, he insisted that the demand was not related to the reshuffle of MBPJ councillors.

“There have been calls from the grassroots for PSM to contest in Subang [parliamentary seat], which is now held by Sivarasa,” Paneerselvam told The Malaysian Insider.

“This has been going on and it is because of his failure to perform his duties,” he claimed.

He said the defeated MIC candidate S. Murugesan has been making his presence felt in the constituency, filling the vacuum left by PKR leaders.

“Because of his failure, Murugesan has been very active in Subang; people have been inviting him openly instead of Sivarasa,” said Paneerselvam.

Meanwhile, PSM chairman Nasir played down his party members’ demand, adding that losing a council seat would not make the party abandon its co-operation with PR.

“We don’t want anything that can jeopardise our service to the people, we will not stop working just because we lost a councillor,” said Nasir.

He, however, confirmed that the issue of councillor appointments has not been resolved with the state government.