Tebrau PKR chief Steven Choong has lashed out at DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang’s expression of interest in one of three parliamentary seats in the greater Johor Baru city.

The three seats – Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang and Tebrau – had been contested by PKR in the 2013 general election.

Zooming in on Tebrau, Choong claimed DAP had done little work in the constituency.

“I don’t know what they have to fight in Tebrau. Is it because they are a Chinese party so a Chinese-majority seat must be given to DAP?” he told Malaysiakini in response to Lim’s request.

Choong claimed DAP’s presence in Tebrau had gradually shrunk while PKR had put much effort into the constituency.

“In 2013, they (DAP) had four branches (in Tebrau), but now there is only one branch left.

“They almost disappeared in Tebrau, only Teo Nie Ching did a voter registration exercise in 2015 and she is from Kulai, the local DAP leaders did not come,” he said.

Choong said his party would not have taken issue had DAP asked for seats where PKR did not have a significant presence.

“If you said you want to contest in Pengerang or Pontian where we don’t serve much, I am okay with it.

“Whoever worked hard and gained the voters’ support, then they deserve it. Tebrau PKR has worked hard in Tebrau, including registering more than 10,000 voters,” he said.

Choong noted that PKR had representatives assigned to look after 38 out of 44 voting districts in Tebrau.

“The party’s central leadership also recognised that we are amongst the best-prepared party division for the election,” he added.

However, Choong said there was nothing he could do if Harapan gave the seat to DAP.

“But what would my team think? They would be disappointed and demoralised to help Harapan campaign,” he said.

Meanwhile, Johor PKR chief Hassan Karim said Lim was entitled to his personal opinions on the matter, but said there were proper channels to discuss seat negotiations.

“We would like to reiterate that there is an existing mechanism for seat allocation within Pakatan Harapan and it would be best if all leaders from the component parties were to adhere to it rather than voicing it out (sic) through his blog or media,” Hassan said in a statement today.

On Aug 19, Lim also suggested that DAP should be given two seats that PKR had contested and lost in Kedah during the previous general election, in order to secure victory for Harapan in the state.

While Kedah PKR was open to the suggestion, party vice-president Tian Chua said Lim should discuss such matters internally instead of publicly.

Johor PKR did not appear prepared to give away any of the three seats that the DAP parliamentary leader expressed interest in.

Hassan said the state PKR had been working hard on the ground since 2013 in those seats mentioned by Lim, and had identified strong potential candidates who had been appointed as seat coordinators.

“These appointed coordinators and their teams have been working tirelessly over the years and we are very confident that they are the best persons who can resonate with the voters and create history by winning Johor Baru, Pasir Gudang and Tebrau seats for Pakatan Harapan in the coming election,” he said.

– M’kini