Since March 18, 2013, when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced at the forty-seventh DAP anniversary celebrations in Johore Baru that I will be contesting in the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency in line with the Pakatan Rakyat decision to make Johor the front-line state in the 13th General Elections, Gelang Patah and Johore have catapulted to national attention and captured the imagination of Malaysians about the challenges of the coming general elections.
There have been diverse reactions covering the entire spectrum, from one end regarding this a foolhardy decision to the other end hailing the decision as a most exciting and challenging test in the 13GE.
Those of the former view are concerned whether I could survive in Gelang Patah, as I will be leaving Ipoh Timor where I won in 2008 general election with a majority of over 21,000 votes to go to a constituency which has always been regarded as a “fort’ of MCA and Barisan Nasional.
In the 2008 general election, MCA/BN won Gelang Patah with a majority of over 8,000 votes while in the 2004 general election, the majority is an awesome one of 31,666 votes!
Is it possible to reverse such humongous majorities for the MCA/BN in Gelang Patah as to win the seat for DAP/Pakatan Rakyat in the 13GE?
I agree that the contest in Gelang Patah is a high-risk venture, but the Battle of Gelang Patah is not so much about the win or loss of an individual or I might as well remain in Ipoh Timor.
It is not even about the advances or setbacks of DAP or any political party. It has a greater import – whether it could spark a political tsunami in the 13GE from the south instead of from the north in 2008, and to cross the South China Sea to influence Sabah and Sarawak so that the three BN “fixed deposit states” can contribute more than one-third of the 83 parliamentary seats to the grand total of Pakatan Rakyat parliamentary victories in the 13GE.
If the three BN “fixed deposit states” of Johore, Sabah and Sarawak ( which Pakatan Rakyat won only three parliamentary seats in 2008, with one seat from each state), can contribute one-third of their parliamentary seats to the Pakatan Rakyat total, or even rise to some 40 per cent as to contribute a total of 33 parliamentary seats from the three states, Pakatan Rakyat will be well on the way to Putrajaya in the 13GE.
The Battle of Gelang Patah is therefore not about the victory or defeat of an individual or the gains or losses of individual parties, but whether Johore can become a “kingmaker” in the 13GE to spark a political tsunami from the south and cross the South China Sea to effect the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power from Barisan Nasional to Pakatan Rakyat.
For this reason, the Battle of Gelang Patah has many phases or objectives.
Let me talk about the first objective of the Battle of Gelang Patah, which is to target the six Parliamentary and 13 State Assembly seats in south Johore to pave the way for Pakatan Rakyat to Putrajaya in 13GE.
Johor Baru has three parliamentary and six state assembly seats, namely Johor Bahru, Pasir Gudang and Tebrau parliamentary seats and Stulang, Tanjong Puteri, Johore Jaya, Permas, Puteri Wangsa and Tiram State Assembly seats.
None of these Johor Baru parliamentary and state assembly seats had been won by the Opposition, which is against the national trend where parliamentary and/or state assembly seats in the capital of most of the states are strongholds of the Opposition, whether Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Perak, Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Terengganu or the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur where the Pakatan Rakyat swept 10 of the 11 parliamentary seats in 2008.
There are three other parliamentry seats and seven state assembly seats in the South Johore region, namely Gelang Patah, Kulai and Pulai with seven state assembly seats, namely Skudai, Nusajaya, Pengkalan Rinting, Kempas, Senai, Bukit Batu and Bukit Permai.
Objective One of the Battle of Gelang Patah is to win for Pakatan Rakyat the six Parliamentary and 13 State Assembly seats in South Johore, for if we cannot achieve this objective, the chances of Pakatan Rakyat winning the 13GE to form the new Federal Government would be a very slim one.
Pakatan Rakyat parties of DAP, PKR and PAS can only succeed in achieving Objective One of the Battle of Gelang Patah if we can mobilise and commit full support of the voters in these six Paliamentry and 13 State Assembly constituences, regardless of race, religion or geography, for the cause of democratic change.
In other words, the greatest challenge of DAP, PKR and PAS in Objective One in the Battle of Gelang Patah is to win the support of voters from all races, whether Malays, Chinese, Indians or Orang Asli so that we can succeed in the other objectives of the Battle of Gelang Patah in Johor and Malaysia.