JOHOR BARU: The Johor DAP elections today will be a crowded affair, with 40 candidates vying for 15 seats in the state committee.
It has been described as “the hottest”, with an all-out attempt by two factions to remove incumbent state chairman Liew Chin Tong, who is aligned to DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and his son Lim Guan Eng.
The two factions are led by state secretary Tan Hong Pin, and former state chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau.
Liew is gunning for a third term as Johor DAP chairman.
A local DAP leader said it would be a keenly contested affair as the number of delegates had more than doubled since the last party polls in 2018.
“At the last election, there were 600-odd delegates from 87 branches. This time, we have 1,500 delegates from 210 branches, ” he said, adding that the polls would be held in Batu Pahat, considered a midpoint in the state.
Asked about the feud between Liew and Tan, the leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said attempts to overthrow Liew began in 2018 when Tan made his move, which caught Liew’s team by surprise.
“Liew got fewer votes then but managed to get into the 15-person committee, which elected him chairman. This time his team is ready for anything, ” he said, adding that delegates aligned with Dr Boo were expected to support Tan’s group.
The leader said that while Liew had the support of nearly all of the five Johor DAP MPs, and many of the 14 DAP assemblymen, it would still be a tough fight.
Asked if any last-minute compromise could happen, he said it was unlikely as there had been bad blood between Liew and Tan after the latter was dropped as a state executive councillor in 2019.
“While it was the (Johor) Palace’s decision to drop Tan, he still blames Liew for not standing up enough for him to be retained, ” said the leader, adding that Tan was the only DAP exco member to be dropped.
Also, DAP stalwart Kit Siang has thrown his support behind Liew and Teo Nie Ching, the incumbent deputy state chair, ahead of the polls.
The Iskandar Puteri MP has called on all MPs, state assembly members and contending candidates to close ranks and rally behind Liew and Teo to take Johor DAP to new heights.
He said this was because Johor would be the “frontline state” for DAP and Pakatan Harapan in the 15th General Election.
Tan, who claimed to be from the “grassroots camp”, described his group as underdogs in the state polls.
The Skudai assemblyman said that Liew had the advantage of having a larger number of “YBs” (MPs and assemblymen).