“The truth will prevail… the Johor way will emerge,” said Datuk Seri Abdul Ghani Othman, who is facing DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang in a straight fight for Gelang Patah Parliamentary constituency.
Abdul Ghani, a four-termed Mentri Besar of Johor, surprised Lim when he himself meet Lim ‘face-to-face’ in a contest considered to be Lim’s final frontier.
Lim has been moving around everywhere in the country in every general election and the last was Ipoh Timur, in Perak, where he won handsomely.
This time around, Lim is tasked with penetrating the BN and Umno stronghold of Johor and he chose Gelang Patah as the constituency comprises 52.4 percent Chinese, 33.65 percent Malays and 12.4 percent Indians with some 1.5 percent others of the total 106,864 voters.
A booming township just a few kilometres away from Singapore Island, the population are concentrated in Skudai town where major occupation is businesses with the Malays and pockets of Chinese in coastal areas and Malays and Indians in many plantations along the coast.
Hardly bigger than Singapore in size, the constituents are well-informed and educated where mornings and evenings are crammed with vehicles going to and from Singapore.
Lim had thought of contesting against MCA candidate by moving to Gelang Patah but he got Abdul Ghani instead to defend the ‘outside attack’ and this had reduced Lim’s confidence where he made a statement that his chances of winning had gone down to 40 percent instead of 60.
Abdul Ghani, on the other hand, did not want to be seen as confident neither he wants to be assumed as negative but on the contest he said:
“it was up to the people to decide and Allah to determine.”Abdul Ghani said there have been attempts by some quarters to focus the contest on base-race politics which was divisive and he hoped the Johor way would reject such attempts.
While both candidates would try to ‘keep the campaign issues clean – devoid of personal and religious issues involved’ during the two weeks campaign period – the racial issues maybe another subject matter altogether given the matter has been raised around the country.
Abdul Ghani is no stranger to voters of Gelang Patah and the ‘Johor Way’ that Ghani meant was the integration in the constituency.
Skudai township which is filled with mega shopping malls are surrounded by housing areas that comprised mixed racial contents, unlike urban centres in Kuala Lumpur or Ipoh or Penang where mega malls are surrounded by housing areas with majority or mainly Chinese.
During nomination at Johor Baru Tengah Town Council Multi-purpose Hall, what was to have been a three-cornered contest did not materialise when Independent R. Rajandren submitted his nomination but withdrew it 15 minutes before nomination closed.
Rajandren, 55, the MIC Skudai Baru branch chairman and a former serviceman, was at the nomination centre shortly after it opened at 9 am, with his proposer, seconder and supporters.
Abdul Ghani arrived at the nomination centre at 9.10 am, about five minutes later than Lim.
Ghani was present at the nomination centre with Dr Zaini Abu Bakar and Liang Ah Chye, the BN candidates for the state seats of Nusajaya and Skudai, respectively, which are under the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency.
Lim was accompanied by Johor DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau, who is contesting the Skudai seat and PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub, who iscontesting going for the Nusajaya state seat as well as Pulai parliamentary seat.