Sivarasa did not deny The Malaysian Insider report but merely said he wished to “reiterate, for the avoidance of any doubt, that the fundamental principle applied by the Party, especially in the context of a key by-election, is that the named candidate is thought to have the best chance of winning the seat.”
Indeed, his quickness in issuing the clarification is an indication of how heated a contest the PKR is expecting. The Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of PKR incumbent Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad last week due to illness.
It is the nation's first by-election for 2010 and the 10th since the landmark 2008 general election. In the light of recent defections from the PKR, the Hulu Selangor seat is seen as an especial acid test for the popularity of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition.
Already, calls have rung out for the best candidate to be fielded – not just by the PKR but also by arch rival Umno-Barisan Nasional.
Big names touted include PKR co-ordinator Zaid Ibrahim, PKR and Hindraf leader Vasantha Kumar, Umno stalwart and former Selangor mentri besar Muhammad Muhammad Taib and MIC deputy president G Palanivel.
PKR supreme council meeting
Meanwhile, PKR director of elections Fuziah Salleh has confirmed that the party will hold a supreme council meeting this Sunday and although there is a chance it might announce the candidate, she added that it was more likely to do so at a later date.
The Hulu Selangor constituency has some 63,593 voters, of whom 54 percent are Malay, 27 percent Chinese and 19 percent Indian. Pundits are divided over whether a Malay or an Indian candidate would have a better chance of winning.
Both these communities have a larger number of fence-sitters or undecided voters, while the majority of the Chinese are expected to favor Pakatan.
According to Sivarasa, no single factor – especially ethnicity – will be used to decide the candidate, but rather a combination of factors. The most important would be the candidate’s ‘winnability’, i.e. the candidate thought to have the best chances to win would be selected.
"The Party will take into account various factors including his or her background, his or her experience and qualifications, the demography of the voters, the particular characteristics of the constituency, the views of coalition partners and all other relevant factors," Sivarasa said in his statement.
"No one of these factors by itself determines who the candidate should be. The ultimate test is whether that particular candidate has the best chance of winning amongst all of those considered."
(Edited by Wong Choon Mei)