AYER HITAM: The tussle for the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat will be “slightly different” this time around, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

Speaking to the media after handing in his nomination papers here yesterday, the MCA president said GE15 would be a test of Malay support for him, as he takes on Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional in a three-cornered fight.

“Since my first term in 2004, I have met with opponents from PAS in this seat, and this is the first time I am up against two ustaz,” he said, referring to DAP’s Sheikh Umar Bagharib Ali (Pakatan) and Muhammad Syafiq A. Aziz of Bersatu, which is part of Perikatan.

However, Dr Wee said that he is not depending on one ethnic group to win, as Ayer Hitam still has about 37% Chinese and Indian voters.

“The Ayer Hitam seat is also an extraordinary one; when MCA lost all its seats nationwide (in GE14), Ayer Hitam was the only one standing, and we must ensure we win in style this time.

“Being here for the past 18 years, I remember all the streets and localities where developments and changes have taken place, but my track record will not make me complacent,” added Dr Wee.

Meanwhile, Johor DAP vice-chairman and former Paloh assemblyman, Sheikh Umar, sees the fight as the “battle of Ayer Hitam”.

“This is not a fight between Sheikh Umar and Wee Ka Siong, this is me up against MCA as a whole and I hope to contribute to Pakatan’s aim to form the next government.

“I place my confidence in the voters to make the right choice for a better economy and livelihood, and I will put up a good fight,” he said.

For Muhammad Syafiq, 34, who is also state Bersatu working secretary, it will be an uphill task as he is a first-time candidate.

“It is a heavy responsibility to go up against the MCA president, but there is no excuse not to do my best as I am a party man who respects the party’s wishes.

“As a youth, I have a few things to offer to the local community which I will reveal soon,” said Muhammad Syafiq, who is former special aide to former Johor mentri besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal, and the late Datuk Osman Sapian.

A total of 61,013 registered voters are expected to cast their ballots in Ayer Hitam, with the parliamentary seat consisting of the Semarang and Yong Peng state seats.

On another matter, Dr Wee said all MCA election machinery nationwide has been instructed to put aside their dissatisfaction with some seat allocations, and focus on helping Barisan candidates win GE15.

Referring to an incident in Sabah as well as in Kuala Lumpur’s Batu recently, he said it is normal for parties within a coalition to tussle over seats among themselves.

“There are bound to be some people who want to express their displeasure. However, Barisan is a mature party, we were not formed yesterday.”