Sungai Besar Umno chief Jamal Md Yunos has in recent years engaged in various publicity stunts in an apparent bid to increase his profile, leading to speculation of him harbouring ambitions to move up the political hierarchy.
However, his unusual move of announcing candidates for the state seat of Sekinchan recently only fuelled further speculations, as the seat has been traditionally contested by the MCA.
Interestingly, Jamal announced Sungai Besar MCA Youth chief Ng Boon Keong as well as Sungai Besar Umno committee member Samad Wahab as the potential candidates for the seat.
Jamal, who made the announcement when officiating the Sabak Bernam election operations room on Monday, acknowledged the seat belonged to MCA but noted that MCA had lost the seat in three general elections.
The apparent display of Umno’s interest in the seat turned into speculation on whether Umno will take it altogether, following a reported statement by Sungai Besar MCA chief Kek Seng Hooi a day later.
Kek was quoted by Sinar Harian as saying that MCA would like to contest the seat, but was prepared to give it up to Umno if Umno could win it.
When contacted by Malaysiakini, Kek claimed he was misquoted and insisted that MCA would not give up the seat to Umno.
Kek explained that he had previously only said that the final decision on who will contest the Sekinchan seat rested with the BN supreme council.
“We will not give up the Sekinchan seat to Umno. We have already submitted our candidate’s name to the MCA leadership,” he said.
He added that the candidate nominated by MCA was Ng, the same person announced by Jamal.
However, Kek said he did not see any problem with Jamal announcing two candidates for the seat.
‘Sekinchan will remain with MCA’
Meanwhile, Selangor MCA secretary Ng Chok Sin, when contacted, insisted the Sekinchan seat would remain with MCA.
“Sekinchan belongs to MCA and we will not give it up, we (and Umno) are equal. We are allies, we are not like Pakatan Harapan, which cannot even decide on their prime minister candidate until now,” Chok Sin told Malaysiakini.
However, he did not view kindly the naming of the two by Jamal as candidates, pointing out that this is to be decided by the BN supreme council and its president Najib Abdul Razak as well as by MCA president Liow Tiong Lai.
DAP’s three-term Sekinchan assemblyperson Ng Suee Lim viewed Jamal’s announcement as a manoeuvring that betrays Jamal’s own desire to come in at the last minute – if Umno could secure the seat from MCA.
“If MCA contests, the candidate will be Ng Boon Keong, but if Umno contests, the candidate will probably be Jamal.
“I think Jamal’s naming of Samad Wahab as the candidate now is merely part of his strategy.
“In the end, Jamal would want to contest the Sekinchan seat,” Swee Lim told Malaysiakini.
In the 2004 and 2008 general elections, Ng won the seat with a razor thin 344-vote majority and 190-vote majority respectively.
Buoyed by the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government’s popularity, Ng achieved a 2,239-vote majority in the 2013 general election.
However, the coalition has since disintegrated and is being plagued with uncertainties, with PAS also having severed ties with its former allies.