So who is the winnable candidate? 

(The Malay Mail) – So who is a winnable candidate for the BN in Pandan? Five-term MP Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat or newbie Gary Lim?

While the announcement by MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek on Wednesday night that Ong would be dropped was not surprising, it still came as a shock.

Was the MCA chief putting his personal feelings against his nemesis and predecessor, over BN’s own interests in retaining one of the few seats MCA is strongest in? Sources say dropping Ong seemed to contradict the prime minister’s endorsement of Ong as a winnable candidate.

It is understood that Datuk Seri Najib Razak had on at least two occasions insisted that Ong’s name be included. “There is still hope for Ong as Najib could use his discretion as BN chairman and insist on fielding Ong,” said a party insider.

“The decision to drop Tee Keat is debatable due to the bad blood between him and Dr Chua, hence Najib could exercise his prerogative to decide in the larger interests of BN.”

13th GE

Newbie Gary Lim — Surprised he is called ‘winnable candidate’

In 2010, Najib exercised this discretion in hand-picking P. Kamalanathan over other MIC candidates for the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election.

Underdog Kamalanathan ended up slaying Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and taking back the seat from PKR.

Ong is aware of this. “It is the BN chairman’s prerogative to decide on the candidates list. Even if Chua wants to contest, that decision, too, lies in the hands of the BN chairman,” he told a press conference, adding that he had expected to be dropped.

However, it seems Ong is still within Najib’s sights. The prime minister will attend the Pandan Chap Goh Meh do on Sunday — an indication of his regard for Ong.

Lim, meanwhile, is undoubtedly daunted by the task ahead, saying he was “surprised” to be named a winnable candidate by Dr Chua.

His respect for Ong was also evident when he spoke to The Malay Mail.

“I think I have always had a good working relationship with Ong. We have met on many occasions and held joint programmes. I still need his guidance,” said the 39-yearold lawyer, who heads the MCA Pandan legal bureau.