Batu race sidetracked by Tian Chua-Praba spat

K. Kabilan

Former Batu MP Tian Chua says that the incumbent P. Prabakaran failed to keep his word to give up the seat so that he could contest again. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 15, 2022.

THE 10-way race for the Batu parliamentary seat is being sidetracked by the on-going spat between two of the main contenders: Pakatan Harapan’s P. Prabakaran and independent candidate Tian Chua. 

Claiming to represent the original reformists of PKR, Tian Chua—in his campaign rounds— has implied that the incumbent Prabakaran failed to carry out PKR’s ideologies as a lawmaker. 

He also criticised Prabakaran for being silent in parliament despite having a good attendance record. 

The two-term former Batu MP added that Prabakaran had failed to keep his word to give up the seat so that he (Tian Chua) could contest again.

To counter this assertion, Prabakaran—who defeated Tian Chua to become Batu PKR chief in May—hit out at his challenger where it hurt the most, saying that Tian Chua was working against the interest of the party and Anwar Ibrahim by contesting as an independent. 

He said that by doing so, Tian Chua was preventing Anwar from becoming the prime minister.  

He added that Tian Chua’s claim that “one vote for me (Chua), was one vote for Pakatan” was confusing the electorate, especially the coalition’s supporters. 

“His statement was confusing the voters and is preventing Pakatan from winning and preventing Anwar from becoming prime minister,” he was quoted as saying in Malaysiakini. 

Tian Chua today hit back at these claims, urging Prabakaran to show proof that he was preventing Anwar from becoming the PM.  

He also suggested that big-picture politics was too great for Prabakaran to understand. 

“It’s not really his level to deal with complex dynamics of forming a government or electing PM. 

“My advice to Praba is that please focus on what he can do for Batu voters. Start some policy debates.  

“Stop these childish personal attacks. Don’t insult the intelligence of voters,” he said in a statement. 

Tian Chua also questioned Prabakaran’s motive to contest as an independent in the last general election when he knew it was a PKR held seat. 

“Until today Praba had not told me or the public what was his motive for contesting against PH in GE14? 

“Was he supported by anti-PH forces? Even at the time I was also aware that his father was an MIC member.  

“Anyhow I am willing to forgive his original intention to undermine us in GE14 since he agreed to be my proxy against BN,” he said. 

With just days to go for polling, the ongoing quarrel between these two former party colleagues is only providing comfort for the other contenders in the race. 

Barisan Nasional’s A. Kohilan Pillay said the squabble between Prabakaran and Tian Chua was an advantage for him as it would split the votes. 

Likewise, Perikatan Nasional’s PAS candidate, Azhar Yahya, a local boy, was also hoping the voters would pitch for him after seeing the open fight between Prabakaran and Tian Chua. 

In the last general election, PKR and Tian Chua backed Prabakaran to win the seat as an independent. Prabakaran joined PKR a few days after his win.

Tian Chua, who was Batu MP for two terms from 2008, was disqualified in GE14 when he was fined RM2,000 by the Shah Alam High Court for insulting a police officer during a sedition investigation. 

Prabakaran, then a student, offered and was accepted to contest on behalf of PH and PKR, winning with a whopping 23,438 votes, thereby becoming the youngest person elected to parliament at the age of 22. 

For GE15, there are 10 candidates vying for the Batu parliamentary constituency, which has 113,863 registered voters. 

They are incumbent Prabakaran, Kohilan, Azhar, Wan Azliana Wan Adnan (Gerakan Tanah Air-Pejuang), Naganathan Pillai (Warisan) and Mohd Zulkifli Abdul Fattah (Parti Rakyat Malaysia). 

The four independents are Tian Chua, Siti Zabedah Kasim, Nur Fathiah Syazwana Shaharudin and Too Cheng Huat. – November 15, 2022.  

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