TANJUNG PIAI, Johor: A multi-cornered fight is expected at the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election, with another political party and a cabbies’ group expressing their intention to join the fray ahead of nomination day on Saturday (Nov 2).
Prior to this, the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan) announced their candidates for the by-election, the ninth since the general election (GE14) in May last year.
On Friday, Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) told Malaysian media that it wanted to provide an "alternative choice" for Malay-Muslim voters.
The Malaysian Taxi Drivers Coalition, meanwhile, said Big Blue Taxi Services founder Shamsubahrin Ismail will stand as an independent candidate to "represent the lower income group".
The by-election was called following the death of its PH member of parliament Dr Md Farid Md Rafik on Sep 21 due to a heart attack.
At GE14, Dr Md Farid from Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) unseated BN incumbent Dr Wee Jeck Seng by a narrow margin of 524 votes.
For this by-election, PH is fielding Mr Karmaine Sardini, the 66-year-old PPBM Tanjung Piai division chief, to defend the parliamentary seat.
BN has decided that Dr Wee, from the Malaysian Chinese Association, would stand again to try and snatch the constituency back from PH.
The 55-year-old is a two-term Tanjung Piai MP and a former deputy youth and sports minister.
Gerakan, meanwhile, has named its deputy secretary-general Wendy Subramaniam as its candidate.
The party hopes that its participation in the by-election would position it as the “third force” in the political arena.
They will have two weeks to woo the 53,000 constituents – made up of 57 per cent Malay, 42 per cent Chinese, and 1 per cent Indians – before polling day on Nov 16.
Several federal ministers have announced allocation for Tanjung Piai in recent weeks, drawing criticism of vote-buying.
For instance, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman pledged a RM4 million (US$960,000) allocation on Oct 19 to upgrade sports and recreational facilities in Tanjung Piai.
A total of 264 street lamps would be installed in the constituency, while three jetties would be upgraded with an allocation of RM3 million.
Johor Chief Minister Sahruddin Jamal denied on Friday that the government assistance were "goodies" ahead of the by-election, adding that it was the late Dr Md Farid who had applied for the allocation.
According to Bernama, Dr Sahruddin said the infrastructure and education assistance, as well as fishermen welfare aid, had been planned much earlier when Dr Md Farid was still alive.
“Md Farid had worked hard to ensure further development in the Tanjung Piai area,” he told reporters at the Kukup International Ferry Terminal.