PKR shortlists candidates as national polls loom

By Shannon Teoh, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — PKR will shortlist all its potential candidates by March 20 to begin early negotiations with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners, in preparation for a general election widely speculated to be called as early as this April.

Party deputy president Azmin Ali said the party leaderships of all states were required to compile their proposed candidates for the central political bureau to vet before going into discussions with PAS and DAP.

“The understanding is that each party will keep the seats that it has won but that we can negotiate for seats that we lost in 2008,” the Gombak MP briefed reporters this week.

Azmin, who has been restored as the PKR election director, added that there was a high likelihood of seats being swapped around as PAS is now gunning for mixed-constituency seats as well.

These seats have so far been the domain of PKR, which is largely an urban party that thrives in areas like the Klang Valley.

With Malay support dwindling over the past few by-elections, PAS will be looking to ensure it maintains its number of lawmakers by moving towards constituencies with fewer Malay voters.

The recent Tenang vote in Johor saw over 80 per cent of Malays supporting Umno and previous polls in Hulu Selangor, Galas and Manek Urai saw up to 10 per cent of Malays swing away from the opposition pact.

However, Azmin said PKR will also look at seats lost by PAS and DAP despite the two older parties having more entrenched support in Malay- and Chinese-majority seats.

“We are the youngest party having been around for just over 10 years. It’s not fair if PAS says they have more branches and members in an area. We have to look at what are the important issues there and sometimes it favours what PKR has been fighting for,” he said.

PKR is expected to face three-cornered fights as the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM) and Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s Parti Kita are also focusing on the party’s seats.