PETALING JAYA (March 11): Dr S Streram of PKR has been retained as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate for the Rantau State by-election on April 13.
This was announced today by PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Dr Streram, an anaesthetist, was the PKR candidate for the seat in the 14th General Election (GE14) but was unable to submit his nomination papers when he was denied entry into the nomination centre because he did not have a pass issued by the Election Commission (EC).
Anwar said a meeting of the PH Presidential Council chaired by PH chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad last Saturday had consensus on the selection of Dr Streram as the PH candidate.
"We discussed this at the Presidential Council meeting. Various views were aired about the concern and reaction, particularly the Malay reaction at present.
"But my position is quite consistent. I stated the necessity for us to remain consistent, presented our case and our position as a party that represents all the residents and to be fair and just to all.
“We always protect the poor, marginalised and underprivileged and that, of course, includes the Malays," he told a press conference here.
The Rantau by-election has been necessitated by the Federal Court dismissal of an appeal filed by UMNO deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan to set aside the Nov 16 Seremban Election Court decision declaring his unopposed victory in GE14 null and void.
In GE14, Mohamad Hasan was declared the winner of the seat after Dr S Streram was prohibited from entering the nomination centre to submit his nomination papers because he did not have a pass issued by the EC.
Anwar said that despite the requests for the candidate to be a Malay, following the decision of UMNO and PAS to work together, various factors have been taken into account in retaining a candidate from the Indian community.
He said the Indians comprised 27 per cent of the electorate and Malays were the elected representatives in several constituencies once represented by Indians, including the Port Dickson Parliamentary constituency where he is now the MP.
"We discussed the matter in depth, taking into account that the Malays are the majority in the country and that their interests will not be sacrificed, even in Rantau. We felt that it is improper to get into a political conflict due to the reaction to the present situation,” he said.
He said he wanted PH to stick to its principle of justice for all communities and not be influenced by racial politics.
"I think instead of using the race card, we use justice. The race card normally is used as the last resort by opportunists or those who have lost the rationale basis. So, I think the position is quite consistent and I said this before, we need to do more for the poor and marginalised," he said.
Asked whether the by-election will be the gauge for the support of the people for PH in the future after the PH defeats in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary and Semenyih state by-elections, Anwar said: “The most reasonable gauge is Port Dickson. People tend to forget that we won Balakong, Seri Setia, Sungai Kandis and won big in Port Dickson. They don’t see all these.”
Anwar also announced that Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun will be the Rantau by-election director for PH.
The EC has set March 30 for nomination for the by-election.