KUALA LUMPUR: Barisan Nasional should not be hesitant about engaging in “urban warfare” and challenge the opposition head on to capture seats in the central belt.
Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, who is mounting BN’s challenge for the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat, said this is imperative as urban seats, particularly in the central belt, are where the major issues lie.
This, he said, was the reason behind his decision to stick to an urban seat, despite the demanding task it poses for BN to win.
“A party is only as relevant as its ability to address issues that affect the majority of the people. Over 73 per cent of Malaysians reside in cities or urban areas.
“If BN or Umno want to remain relevant, it must be courageous enough to contest in urban seats. These urban seats, particularly in the central area, are where the most of the issues are,” he said.
Johari won the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat in GE13 in 2013, before being appointed deputy finance minister in 2015. He subsequently became second finance minister after a cabinet reshuffle in 2016.
The Klang Valley is the country’s main economic hub, making its 13 seats among the most “attractive” for political parties to win.
In the last elections, BN only won two seats, namely Labuan and Putrajaya.
The remaining 12 seats were held primarily by Pakatan Harapan (PH), and one lone independent candidate for the Batu seat, who subsequently joined PKR.
DAP had continued to hold onto its traditional seats, including Segambut, Seputeh, Cheras, Bukit Bintang.
Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidate for Putrajaya, Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin, might give BN candidate Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor a run for his money for the constituency.
Radzi, who is caretaker education minister, has been riding on his past deeds for teachers and his handling of the school system during the Covid-19 pandemic, for his campaign.
However, Tengku Adnan, who has been the constituency’s MP since 2004, is a familiar figure among longtime residents, even weathering the 2018 general election which saw many peers unseated, allowing PH to capture the federal administration.
A likely “blue seat” in Klang Valley, however, is Titiwangsa, where Johari is said to have an upper hand for his years of continued service, despite being unseated in 2018.
In GE14, the parliamentary seat fell to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Srikandi leader, Datuk Seri Rina Harun, who then represented PH, with a majority of 4,139 votes, defeating Johari and Pas candidate Mohamad Noor Mohamad.
Johari, however, isn’t deterred by the challenge.
“We shouldn’t only be hoping to win in safe seats. Winning the central seats is very important because it is a reflection that the party is still relevant.
“We cannot be a party with years of experience but lose urban seats. BN needs to have someone in urban seats. Otherwise, how are we to represent the people (and understand their needs) in the urban areas?”
Johari, at an engagement session with the Chinese community at Taman Maluri here, said he was hopeful over his chances of winning back the hearts of the Chinese community, having won only two per cent of their votes, at most, in the past.
“They are missing a leader. When I was the member of parliament here, they could come to my service centre and would meet me on Fridays. Some of the people here are very close to me. This time, I feel quite positive (about getting their votes).”
The large majority of the 800,747 voters in Titiwangsa are Malays at 72.4 per cent. About 16.5 per cent are Chinese, 9.5 per cent are Indians, while 1.6 per cent are other races.
In the elections this Saturday, Titiwangsa will see a four-cornered contest in the Nov 19 election.
Apart from Johari, the other contenders are Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air, Pakatan Harapan’s Khalid Samad and PN candidate Dr Rosni Adam of Pas.