With Pakatan Harapan (PH) announced on the candidate for prime minister and the allocation of seats became more explicit, the war against Barisan Nasional can be said to have started in full swing. The focus on the 14th general election (GE14) has also been shifted to the candidates from both camps for the hot spots in the parliamentary seats; among them the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat in Johor is the constituency where the waves are highest.
After PH’s internal negotiations, the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat was allocated to DAP, it has been decided that Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) candidate will contest under the banner of DAP and it will be a Chinese candidate. As Ayer Hitam constituency is secured by MCA deputy president Wee Ka Siong, anything that happens in the constituency will attract attention.
DAP stated that its strategy is to let a more liberal candidate from Amanah to contest in the area so that he can garner Malay votes, and the DAP banner will attract Chinese voters. In 2013 general election, Wee Ka Siong won the seat with majority of 7,310 votes against PAS’ Chinese candidate Hu Pang Chaw. From the data, if DAP can grab 4,000 votes, the opposition will be the winner. However, it is easier said than done.
The key of the Ayer Hitam battle lies in the candidate, it doesn’t mean that whoever contest under the DAP banner will definitely win, nor it is a constituency of which the result can be decided by the wind of change. The candidate must be acceptable to Malay voters and also be known to the Chinese electorates, he must also be a prestigious political figure, and the question is whether Amanah has got such a candidate.
In the last three general elections from 2004 to 2013, the battle in Ayer Hitam constituency was fought between Wee Ka Siong and PAS candidate. During the GE12 and GE13 when the political tsunami was at its height, Wee Ka Siong remained unperturbed and managed to win in the Ayer Hitam constituency. If DAP wants to defeat Wee Ka Siong who is of high reputation, then it must have a well-matched candidate, or even a battle like “Clash of the Titans”.
At present, the person who is capable of defeating Wee Ka Siong is not from Amanah, and he is none other than Lim Kit Siang himself. Both also possess high degree of political influence, with seniority and social prestige. Moreover, Lim Kit Siang had fought many hard battles and had defeated famous political leaders such as Koh Tsu Koon and Lim Chong Eu.
In the GE13, Lim Kit Siang had boldly led the young leaders like Teo Nie Ching and Liew Chin Tong moving southward to contest in Johor which had boosted the morale of DAP to win five parliamentary seats and 18 state seats. At that time when Lim Kit Siang moved out from “safe area” to contest in BN’s bastion, he had brought a totally new perspective to Johor, and had created the famous “Battle of Gelang Patah” which people are talking about it with relish, in that battle he had defeated the then Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani by a vast majority of more than 10,000 votes.
And now, DAP has only been given 35 seats in the internal negotiations in PH, if it wants to win more seats in GE14, it has no choice but to capture all the seven parliamentary seats now owned by MCA, of which four are in Johor. No doubt that Lim Kit Siang who is responsible in breaking a gap in Johor for DAP, is the most suitable candidate to stand against Wee Ka Siong, and it is expected that he is able to repeat the “Battle of Gelang Patah”.
Since DAP had made it clear that Ayer Hitam will definitely be contested by Amanah candidate, while Lim Kit Siang’s first choice is to stand in Gelang Patah, the probability of a variable is minimal, the “Lim versus Wee” battle probably will only be a fantasy. Lim Kit Siang had said GE14 is his last general election, his political career had been marked by countless hard battles, he had even “moving towards the mountains when knowing that there are tigers in the mountains”. The final battle should be concluded with a great bang, perhaps Ayer Hitam is the most ideal platform.