By G. Manimaran and Adib Zalkapli
HULU SELANGOR, April 13 — Local Umno and MIC leaders hold different views about Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s remark that a local will be the Barisan Nasional candidate in the Hulu Selangor by-election, with a Malay leader saying it will be a new face.
Umno campaigners from across the country descending on the federal seat believe the deputy prime minister was hinting that local-born V. Mugilan will be chosen as BN candidate while their MIC counterparts say its Datuk G. Palanivel, who stays in Bukit Sentosa, a neighbourhood within the constituency.
Wanita BN information chief Datuk Hamidah Osman spilled the beans when she told The Malaysian Insider Muhyiddin’s announcement this Thursday will see a new face as the coalition’s choice for the April 25 by-election.
“I am confident this will motivate them. Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s announcement is good news, to field a new face with the hope to win back Hulu Selangor,” said the Perak executive councilor.
But MIC leaders are adamant that the local choice is Palanivel, the MIC deputy president who was also a four-term MP of Hulu Selangor from 1990 to 2008 when he lost by 198 votes.
“What is the definition of local? My interpretation is someone who has been living in here. Datuk Palanivel was the MP for 18 years and he lives in Bukit Beruntung, so he is a local,” said an MIC leader when met at the party’s Hulu Selangor office.
The leader who spoke on condition of anonymity pointed out that Mugilan, the Hulu Selangor MIC Youth chief and national youth deputy chief, does not reside in the constituency although he was born in the Kerling Estate.
“Mugilan doesn’t live here. He lives in Rawang, and so does P. Kamalanathan,” the MIC leader said, referring to the other possible candidate who is the MIC information chief.
Palanivel is MIC’s sole choice to contest the by-election while Mugilan and Kamalanathan were proposed by Umno, said a party insider.
“Mugilan is a local. The DPM’s message was very clear. A local is someone who was born here,” said a local Umno leader.
Another Umno leader said Muhyiddin’s statement shows that an agreement has been made to field a younger candidate.
“We have reached an understanding to field a young candidate. I am sure the message has been sent to MIC leadership,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
Kelantan state Opposition Leader, Datuk Mohd Alwi Che Ahmad, said all parties including Palanivel must accept the candidate which will be announced this Thursday.
“Everybody must accept. He must accept. You must make sure the party wins,” said the Ketereh Umno deputy division chief when met near the Hulu Selangor Umno office.
Since the Hulu Selangor seat was declared vacant local Umno leaders have been lobbying for the seat but backed down from the demand after party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak insisted that the seat will be contested by MIC.
The local Umno warlords, however, are opposed to fielding Palanivel claiming that he has failed to deliver on his promises.
The Malaysian Insider understands that local leaders from Umno and MIC met last night to sort out their differences.
It was agreed at the meeting that the local machinery will accept whoever is chosen by the prime minister.