As the dispute between PKR and DAP over which party should contest Johor's Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency continues, DAP is insisting that its election strategist and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong battles its out in the coming election.
DAP deputy chairperson Tan Kok Wai ( right ) said Liew is the best candidate for the MCA stronghold, which he considers winnable.
"Yes. We recommend Chin Tong to contest in Gelang Patah," Tan told Malaysiakini when contacted.
With an Asian Studies honours degree from the Australian National University and a regional integration masters degree from Universiti Malaya, the first-term MP has also been hailed as an expert in PAS politics.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng appointed Liew his election strategy adviser prior to the 2008 polls.
Upon Liew's election as Bukit Bendera MP, he went on to become the Penang chief minister's policy adviser.
Liew has led several think tanks, including Research for Social Advancement and the Penang Institute.
Johor DAP chief Dr Boo Cheng Hau was the first to break the news on Liew ( left ) being a possible candidate in Johor, one of the frontline states identified by Pakatan Rakyat.
"Liew Chin Tong (is) a young, energetic policymaker giving up Bukit Bendera and should be given a chance in Gelang Patah in Johor," Boo posted on his Twitter webpage.
The tweet tagged Liew and PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, but drew no response.
Liew also declined to comment when met by Malaysiakini at a recent DAP ceramah in Bentong, Pahang.
Contacted by Malaysiakini, Boo said Liew could advise the Johor government should Pakatan take over Nusajaya, the state administrative capital, in the coming election.
Policy-making expertise card
"Iskandar Malaysia (the state's booming economic corridor) is located in the vicinity of Gelang Patah. Liew has wide knowledge about policy-making.
"That's why we welcome Liew to contest in Gelang Patah," said the Skudai assemblyperson and state opposition leader, adding that DAP grassroots members will throw their full support behind Liew.
Boasting an electorate of over 100,000, Gelang Patah is among the parliamentary constituencies with the highest number of voters in Malaysia.
It comprises two state seats - Skudai and Nusajaya. Skudai is held by Boo ( left ) while Nusajaya is in the hands of Umno's Abdul Aziz Sapian.
Gelang Patah's electorate breakdown during the 2008 general election was 54.3 percent Chinese, 33.85 percent Malay and 11.7 percent Indian, and they favoured Tang Ah Eng from MCA.
Being one of the very few Chinese-majority parliamentary constituencies in Johor, both the DAP and PKR state chiefs are eyeing it.
It appears that Boo is attempting to use Liew's candidacy to up the ante in his negotiations with Johor PKR chief Chua Jui Meng, a former MCA minister who joined the opposition party after the last election.
"Chua should look at the bigger picture. He held a high position when he was in MCA.
"Even I, as a senior party leader, can make way for Liew. Why can't Chua do the same?" Boo asked.
Boo also expressed his opposition to Chua's bid to go for the Bakri parliamentary constituency, a Chinese-majority seat he had held for 22 years until removed by the MCA in 2008, in exchange for Gelang Patah. DAP's Er Teck Hwa captured Bakri.
It would be unfair to DAP, Boo said, as the party only vied for seven parliamentary seats, compared with PKR's 11 in Johor.
To resolve the deadlock, he suggested, Chua should consider other seats, given his strong support base in the state.
"He (Chua) can contest Pasir Gudang, Tebrau, Muar... PKR and DAP grassroots will support him," Boo added.
Chua, however, refuted Boo's suggestion by saying that DAP should not interfere into PKR's matters.
"I advised him (Boo) to be more mature. Don't talk about the seat negotiation through the media. Talk about it within Pakatan."
"I respect DAP's decision to retain Bakri. They too, must respect us, as we have contested in Gelang Patah in 2004 and 2008," he stressed when contacted by Malaysiakini .
The Johor PKR chief declined to comment on whether he will be contesting in Gelang Patah or if he will be leaving the matter for the Pakatan leadership to decide.