By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) MPs talked up its chances of winning the Hulu Selangor seat after a divided Barisan Nasional (BN) named P. Kamalanathan as its candidate.
The MIC had wanted to put its deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel as the candidate but this was nixed by Umno leaders who wanted local man V. Mugilan to contest the seat.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin finally agreed today on Kamalanathan as the compromise candidate.
PKR vice-president and Gombak MP Azmin Ali said PR should not be complacent when facing BN’s “new candidate” but he remained confident because of BN’s problems in naming a candidate.
“I do not want to be overconfident and we have to work very hard because Hulu Selangor is a big area which involves some Felda settlers especially in Ulu Bernam so we do not want to be too complacent about it. That is why I told my colleagues that all leaders and party workers must be on the ground to reach out to the voters and explain our policies.
“Based on our track record, I believe that we would be able to retain the seat with a bigger majority. Also, with some problems in Barisan Nasional and I was told that there was talk that the top leadership in Umno has given some promise to Palanivel for a senatorship and a post in the Cabinet. That shows how desperate they are to get the Indian vote in Selangor,” he told reporters in Parliament.
PAS vice-president and Kubang Kerian MP Salahuddin Ayub said the advantage was now with PR.
“I feel that we will have a better opportunity with MIC’s candidate and the problem in the party which caused Palanivel to be offered a senator’s post. They are not solid and this may give us an advantage,” he said.
DAP Youth chief and Rasa MP Anthony Loke stressed that Kamalanathan’s appointment reflected “the real politics” in BN.
“I think this shows the ugly face of the real politics within Barisan Nasional and in particular MIC because it is very clear that from the very beginning the party position was to choose G. Palanivel as the candidate but it is very obvious that Umno does not favour him.
“We know that Samy Vellu had the CWC meeting to push for a Palanivel candidacy but even then they did not get through the BN selection process and finally they have to accept a compromise candidate. That shows that within Barisan Nasional, Umno is the one that calls the shots as far as candidate selection is concerned. So this again strengthens the notion that within the Barisan Nasional there is no sense of coalition politics but it is basically Umno’s hegemony,” he said.
The Hulu Selangor by-election was called following the death of PKR MP Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad late last month.
In Election 2008, Zainal Abidin, a former Selangor deputy mentri besar, defeated Palanivel by a slim majority of 198 votes.
Zainal Abidin, who joined PKR in 2005, obtained 23,177 votes while Palanivel received 22,979 votes.
There are 64,500 voters in Hulu Selangor, with the Malays making up 52.7 per cent of the total while the Chinese constitute 26.3 per cent, Indians approximately 19 per cent and other races at 1.7 per cent.
PKR has announced Datuk Zaid Ibrahim as its candidate for the by-election.