KUALA LUMPUR - Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) did not name all of its candidates for the Johor state election as scheduled on Monday (Feb 14), as negotiations with fellow opposition party, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), over seat allocations dragged on beyond a self-imposed deadline.
Datuk Seri Anwar, on a three-stop tour of Johor, only named 13 PKR candidates instead of the 20 he was supposed to, leaving seven seats still up in the air.
Muda president Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, a former Cabinet minister, said that the door for negotiations has not closed, despite his party apparently not being allocated all of the seats it had targeted from PKR’s 20 among Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition parties.
On Monday, Mr Anwar named candidates for Larkin, Kempas and Gambir. These are the seats that Muda had originally sought from PKR.
Gambir’s incumbent assemblyman is former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, president of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), who has said he will not defend his seat.
PKR had earlier offered three other seats to Muda - a youth-based party making its electoral debut in Johor - but it has yet to accept them. The seats were reported to be Tanjung Surat, Sri Medan and Semarang.
On Monday night, Mr Anwar named the PKR candidate for Semarang, raising questions about the state of negotiations with Muda.
Despite not being part of PH, Muda has thus far confirmed that it will contest six seats in the Johor polls, all of which it obtained through an electoral understanding with the other two other PH parties.
It obtained four seats from Parti Amanah Negara and two from the Democratic Action Party (DAP) following negotiations which concluded last week.
Muda’s negotiations with PKR hit a stumbling block despite both parties having an understanding that PKR would cede three seats to the new party.
Both parties have not been able to reach an understanding on which three seats that will be, and were unable to strike a deal before a self-imposed deadline on Sunday.
The deadline was meant to allow PKR to announce its candidates as scheduled on Monday.
Mr Anwar and Mr Syed Saddiq appeared together during PH’s election machinery launch on Monday afternoon, where both reiterated their parties’ friendly stance towards each other and spoke about finding a resolution to the current impasse over seat allocation.
PKR’s highest-profile candidate running for a place in Johor’s 56-seat state assembly is former Education Minister Maszlee Malik, who will be contesting the Layang-Layang seat.
Dr Maszlee, the incumbent MP for Simpang Renggam, which is also in Johor, joined PKR in November last year after leaving former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang). He was also once a member of Bersatu.
He won Simpang Renggam for Bersatu in the 2018 polls, when the party was part of the PH coalition. He was Education Minister during PH’s short-lived stint as the government.
PKR’s ability to reach an accord with Muda will go some way in minimising overlapping contests among opposition parties in the state poll.
PH has said that it would like to work with all opposition parties in a big-tent approach, but there has been no indication that its aim will materialise in time for the poll.
Pejuang is also set to make its electoral debut in Johor, and has ruled out a pre-poll accord with PH.
The recently rebranded Parti Warisan (Heritage Party) - the former ruling party in Sabah - is also weighing its interest in contesting in Johor and is scheduled to launch the state arm of its party on Tuesday. Warisan recently became a national party from a Sabah-based one.
The Johor poll will take place on March 12, with nomination day on Feb 26.