No candidates, Kita beats a retreat

Party insiders believe this predicament is the reason for Zaid’s decision to field candidates for selected seats.

(Free Malaysia Today) – Kita chief, Zaid Ibrahim, may have unwittingly offered a glimpse of more possible turmoil within his party with his latest decision on Kita’s involvement in the upcoming general election.

On Tuesday, Kita announced that it would refrain from fielding candidates if doing so meant jeopardising Pakatan Rakyat’s chances of victory.

Zaid said his decision to offer “unconditional” support to the opposition stemmed from the racist statements made by Umno leaders during the party’s recent general assembly.

Kedah state chief, Zamil Ibrahim, further clarified yesterday that Kita would steer clear of Pakatan strongholds like Permatang Pauh and Bagan, and would only field candidates for seats where Pakatan faced a 50-50 chance of winning.

He also hinted that Zaid may not be running for the Petaling Jaya Selatan seat as previously reported but could be eyeing a seat in Kedah.

“Kita will definitely be contesting because we have already launched our party manifesto,” he told FMT. “And it is impossible for Zaid as party chief to not contest. It’s just a matter of which seat he chooses.”

“As of now, I myself have identified six parliamentary and 12 states seats for Kita to contest in Kedah. All that is left is to select the right candidates from the list of hopefuls.”

And this is where Kita may be facing an excruciating predicament. According to a party insider, the list has since crumbled as almost all those on it have retracted their interest to be fielded as Kita candidates.

Pandering to BN

The insider said that Zaid’s apology to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak for misjudging his political will to abolish the Internal Security Act was the first of many moves that spooked potential candidates.

Furthermore, Kita’s supposed neutrality has come under a cloud with Zaid seen as cosying up to Najib and compounded by Kita’s apparent pandering to Barisan Nasional (BN). All this was enough to convince them that they would lose their deposits if they contested.

The insider speculated that Najib probably gave Zaid the cold shoulder and, left with a nearly dried up pool of candidates, the latter was forced to announce that Kita would only be contesting in selected seats.

One candidate who will be contesting whether under the Kita banner or as an independent is Penang state chief and Nibong Tebal MP, Tan Tee Beng.

“I have no fear contesting as an individual because Penangites are more familiar with me than they are with Kita,” he told FMT. “Kita doesn’t have a significant image in Penang.”

“Many people still confuse it with Parti Cinta. So maybe novice candidates would need Kita’s image to support them but not me.”

“Whatever the party’s decision I respect it, but as an incumbent and a politician I must also have my own back-up plan,” he added.

When asked about candidate selection in Penang, Tan’s reply corroborated the party insider’s earlier account of potential candidates withdrawing their names.