DAP’s Chin Tong to contest Ayer Hitam seat in GE14

BY BEN TAN
Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong (left) has been announced as Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Ayer Hitam parliament candidate during DAP’s 52nd anniversary event held at the Ayer Hitam PH election centre in Bandar Baru in Ayer Hitam, March 18, 2018. — Picture by Ben Tan

AYER HITAM, March 18 — DAP’s Johor chairman and incumbent Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong will contest the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat, following an official announcement made today.

The announcement was made by the party’s secretary-general Lim Guan Eng at DAP’s 52nd anniversary event held at the Ayer Hitam PH election centre in Bandar Baru here.

His candidacy was later endorsed by PH chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Liew has been tipped to contest for the Ayer Hitam seat ever since DAP took back the parliamentary seat from PH ally Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) last month.

More than 1,000 people turned up for the event that started as early as 10am.

Present at the event was DAP national chairman Tan Kok Wai, deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo and the party’s parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang.

The Opposition coalition’s leadership was present with the coalition deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Mohamad Sabu and Nurul Izzah Anwar.

DAP Johor’s state leaders, led by Liew, were also present. Incumbent DAP Damansara Utama assemblyman Yeo Bee Yin and Seputeh MP Teresa Kok were also present to lend her support together with state PH leaders from PPBM, PKR and Amanah.

Liew, a known DAP strategist, is expected to go head-on with incumbent MP Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong from MCA in GE14.

The announcement will mark the start of PH’s efforts in Johor ans also DAP’s campaign with Wee, who is MCA’s state number one and also the party’s number two man in a symbolic move in central Johor.

Later, Dr Mahathir also backed the idea that Ayer Hitam will now be the next Gelang Patah for the Opposition coalition.

“Yes, why not. It is possible that Ayer Hitam will be the next Gelang Patah for us.

“And we all know what happened in Gelang Patah (in 2013),” he said after a brief media conference after the DAP’s anniversary celebrations.

Liew, when met after the media conference, said he was honoured to be the first endorsed candidate for PH, ahead of the coalition’s official candidate announcement.

“I thank the PH leadership in selecting me as their first candidate. However, I wouldn't say that Ayer Hitam is an easy seat for DAP and PH as all along it was a known MCA and BN stronghold.

“If we (PH) could win the Ayer Hitam seat, we have a high chance of maybe winning another 10 more parliamentary seats in Johor,” he said, adding that this would add to the Opposition coalition’s target of achieving 100 parliamentary seats in the peninsula.

Liew, who has been tipped to be the favourite for DAP in Ayer Hitam after taking back the seat from Amanah last month, said he did not hold any grudges against Wee by contesting in the parliament seat.

“To me this is not a personal battle, but a battle for Malaysia. In order to change we have to go all out,” he said.

Ayer Hitam, strategically located in central Johor, is a Malay-majority parliamentary constituency.

Wee, the incumbent MP, won the seat three times in a row, defeating a PAS candidate in 2004 with a majority of 15,763 votes. The figure decreased to 13,909 votes in 2008, also against a PAS candidate.

In 2013, Wee defended the seat against PAS-nominated candidate Hu Pang Chow but, his majority was reduced to only 7,310 votes.