Anger, ruckus and tension as parties begin nominating GE15 candidates, dropping ‘seniors’

(MMO) – The run up to the 15th general election (GE15) got off to a very dramatic start with anger and dissatisfaction marring political parties’ candidate selection.

In recent days, attention has been focused on how the Opposition would re-strategise and allocate its members, especially after the notorious ‘Sheraton Move’ which saw the 22-month-old Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration toppled, and with the passing of the Anti-Party Hopping Bill to prevent defections.

Though these parties have been advocating for stability for the nation via a strong political mandate, it already seems to be a daunting task to solidify its own base, raising questions if anyone can attain a “strong, formidable and convincing” majority to form a stable government.

In its GE15 report, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) said that this election is the key to setting a base for the additional six million new voters which it deemed to be a wild card at present, “and to somewhat restore a mandate.”

The think tank said that there will not be a direct two-coalition fight with the presence of new opposition parties and that political coalitions may not be stable, predicting post-election collaborations with smaller parties hence, making every seat win a crucial deciding factor.

It is also crucial to note that the national election this time around, comes after the automatic registration system was enforced for the first time, making those who are 18-years-old and above automatically eligible to cast their ballots. Ideas said that this also reflects another problem; lack of political literacy for young voters.

PKR’s dilemmas

PKR attempted to get creative and transparent in its attempt to field credible candidates via a free-for-all approach, but the initiative seems to have fizzled just as fast as it began.

Just early this month, its deputy president Rafizi Ramli launched a website to allow party members and members of the public to register themselves as prospective candidates to contest under the party’s ticket, and that PKR was expecting at least 10,000 nominations to come in.

Rafizi said that the decision for the move was because electorates were now looking beyond political parties when deciding their support, and were increasingly concerned that they could be voting in politicians who were only interested in positions but did not contribute.

He added that since being placed in charge of the party’s election efforts, he has been reforming its internal processes including candidate selection.

No one knows what has happened since and how many people nominated themselves.

During its programme in Ampang to announce candidates, PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim replaced R. Sivarasa with a relatively new PKR leader, Datuk R. Ramanan — formerly from the MIC. Malay Mail understands that the decision has sent some shockwaves in the party.

Ramanan is the grandson of Tan Sri Devaki Ayathurai Krishnan, the first woman to be elected to public office before Malaysia attained independence. Devaki had at that time contested under the Independence of Malaya Party (IMP) when she was elected for the Bangsar municipal council seat in 1952 and later retained the seat in 1955.

On his personal website, the politician describes himself as a humanitarian, entrepreneur, visionary and a patriot, who “brings with him years of experiences and competencies related to governmental, political, social welfare, socioeconomic, ecological and environmental initiatives as can be seen in his career briefings.”

However, his presence in the political arena has mostly been as a backbencher, with little to no experience in election campaigns, while his rumoured contender, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has a far more formidable presence.

Adding to that, just days before the announcement of candidates, a commotion broke out at the Batu Pahat PKR division office after some members were reportedly against the decision to include several names as parliamentary candidates for the GE15, claimed sources

Malay Mail understands that the issue began several days ago after 10 names were said to have been submitted to the PKR leadership as potential parliamentary candidates for Batu Pahat, a federal constituency that is highly coveted by PH. However, out of the 10 names, only one potential candidate is said to be a Batu Pahat local.

The candidate has been identified as the current Batu Pahat PKR division chief Khairuddin Abdul Rahim, who is also the former Senggarang assemblyman.

After the candidate’s announcement in Ampang, Anwar who would be contesting in Tambun, Perak, admitted that it had been a tough decision to drop several MPs, who have been close friends for decades, from the party’s line-up of candidates. He stressed, however, that this had to be done for the good of the party and the future of the country.

In a surprise move, incumbent PKR MPs Maria Chin Abdullah (Petaling Jaya), Datuk Johari Abdul (Sungai Petani), June Leow (Hulu Selangor), Chan Ming Kai (Alor Setar) and Datin Paduka Tan Yee Kew (Wangsa Maju) were also dropped from contesting in GE15.

Also not standing for re-election in his constituency of Gopeng is former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, who has retired.

DAP’s infighting

Trouble has also been brewing in the DAP, after the party dropped one of its recognisable heavyweights, incumbent Klang MP, Charles Santiago who has been enjoying a comfortable win in the area, owing to strong support from electorates.

One of the most recognisable ethnic Indian faces in the ethnic-Chinese dominated DAP, Charles has been at the forefront of many crucial debate sessions in Parliament, as well as an outspoken voice on proposing policy ideas for the people.

Along with Charles, Bentong’s incumbent, Wong Tack was also dropped, while two-time Batu Kawan incumbent, Kasthuriraani Patto, an up-and-coming MP had announced that she was stepping down to pave the way for her successor.

Arguments ensued between Selangor DAP chairman Gobind Singh, who issued a statement to rebut Charles, after the latter claimed that his party had never informed him that 2018 would have been the last time he would be fielded as a candidate.

Charles also called the narrative produced by DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke and Gobind as an “afterthought” manufactured to mitigate the backlash caused in response to the news of Charles being replaced as the candidate for GE15. In his statement, Gobind said that Charles had already known his fate and that he would not be standing for re-election in Klang for GE15.

Gobind said that he had already informed Charles in 2018 when the latter had sought his support for his candidature, that the GE14 would be his last run for the constituency. Kota Kemuning assemblyman and Selangor state executive councillor, V. Ganabatirau has been announced as Charles’ replacement.

Wong had also expressed his displeasure at being replaced in Bentong and has vowed to contest for the seat as an independent, while Young Syefura Othman who is the incumbent for the Ketari state seat will be contesting in Bentong. According to Loke, Wong had also rejected DAP’s offer to field him in Cameron Highlands.

Though Kasthuri had voluntarily pulled out from re-contesting and pledged to help any candidate picked to replace her, Malay Mail has learnt from party insiders that her move was after years of alleged pressure from a long-time party senior and ex-MP and his loyalists, purportedly gunning for the Batu Kawan parliament seat.

She was also allegedly subjected to years of “bullying” and was also prevented from having important information on land matters in her constituency, channelled to her. This reportedly became the last straw for Kasthuri and she decided to give way amicably to support her party.

The DAP-Amanah seat tussle in Perak, and PKR’s “poaching” of Amanah’s candidates

As if the internal conflicts were not already complicated, DAP was also accused of “seizing” Parti Amanah Negara’s (Amanah) seat in three constituencies in Perak.

Wanita Muda Amanah’s national election director Nur Najihah Muhaimin took to her Facebook to publicly chastise both the DAP and Amanah, calling on her party leaders to not bend over to their coalition partner.

“DAP seized Amanah’s seat in Changkat Jong. Amanah’s president cannot be too soft with DAP. There is a limit to being tolerant. This is a complete sweep! The Teluk Intan parliament, Pasir Berdamar, Changkat Jong.

“We should rightfully be steadfast to the decision in the meeting which has decided on the seats. Not to DAP,” Nur Najihah wrote.

She also expressed disappointment that PKR had nominated Datuk Husam Musa and Nik Omar Nik Aziz as its candidate, when they are Amanah members, and iconic leaders in the party.

“Amanah is indeed good because of its tolerant nature and being peacemaker for component parties but does not mean that Amanah has to give away all the seats. Our A+ grade seats can be given not to even members or leadership. Who doesn’t want a grade A seat?

“For us to confront DAP’s sentiment is not easy. More so in Malay-majority areas. Yes we are so nice. But how about the nomination of uztaz Nik Omar and Husam as PKR’s candidates? These are two of Amanah’s iconic leaders. Sigh. Pity,” she wrote in another post on Facebook.

Husam who is Amanah’s former vice-president, will contest in Pasir Mas, while Nik Omar who is the son of the late PAS spiritual leader and former Kelantan mentri besar Datuk Seri Nik Aziz Nik Mat will be contesting in Pasir Salak, Perak.

Nik Omar who stood as Amanah’s candidate in the last general election, kept mum about his party membership when asked by reporters, after his candidacy was announced on October 26. Husam who stepped down as Amanah’s vice-president, had remained an Amanah member but with his PKR candidacy, questions also abound about his party membership.

PBM: Will the real president please stand up?

Forget the candidates for GE15, because Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) seems to have difficulties knowing who its party president is.

Julau incumbent and PKR defector Datuk Larry Sng insisted last week, that he was still the legit president and the only one authorised to sign the credentials for its candidates to contest in GE15.

His statement comes after PBM previously said that Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin has replaced him. On October 8, PBM secretary-general Nor Hiizwan Ahmad announced that caretaker plantation industries and commodities minister Zuraida had replaced Sng as the new president of PBM.

PBM’s leadership crisis took a deeper turn after Sng abruptly suspended Zuraida and 12 other leaders from their positions on the party’s supreme council, which Sng said was done in accordance with PBM’s constitution.

Those suspended are; Haniza Mohamad Taha, Dr Daroyah Alwi, Rahimah Majid, Dr Sathiskumar Govindaraju, Muhammad Saiful Bahari Sahari, Na’im Brundage, Abdul Aziz Abdul Kadir, Zakaria Abdul Rahim, Muniraa Abu Bakar, Datuk Chua Lian Chye, Datuk Roger Tan Seng Huat and Albakri Salim.