JOHOR BARU, Nov 5 — Despite an undertaking that he will contest for the Pulai parliamentary constituency in the 15th general election (GE15), businessman Deepak Jaikishan was not present at the nomination centre here today.
Even after the 10am cut-off time, the carpet trader was still not seen at the Dewan Jubli Intan Sultan Ibrahim here, effectively confirming a three-way contest in the Pulai federal seat by candidates from Barisan Nasional (BN), Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN).
Yesterday, Deepak withdrew from being a PN coalition candidate ahead of the nomination day today.
However, the former friend of ex-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datin Rosmah Mansor, said he would still submit his nomination papers, although he didn't specify which party he would be contesting for.
With that, the Pulai seat will see PH’s incumbent Pulai MP Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub lock horns with BN’s Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed and PN’s candidate Loh Kah Yong.
The three contestants for the Pulai seat were officially announced by returning officer Miswan Yunus at 10.30am after the nomination process ended.
After the announcement, Nur Jazlan said he welcomed Deepak’s decision to not contest in the Pulai parliamentary seat for GE15.
“I am a serious candidate and have a good past record as the Pulai MP for three terms. Likewise, with Salahuddin, he is also the incumbent Pulai MP.
“We see this general election as a serious process and will work hard to win for the benefit of the people of Pulai,” said Nur Jazlan when asked to comment on Deepak’s no-show as a Pulai parliamentary candidate today.
Nur Jazlan, who is a former deputy minister, said he agreed to be fielded as BN’s Pulai parliamentary candidate after abiding by his party’s instructions to make up for the defeat in 2018.
He said his willingness to contest was not for personal gain but was done on the basis that he is a ‘party man'.
Salahuddin said that it will be easier for voters as the Pulai seat is now confirmed to be a three-way contest for GE15.
“However, I initially expected to see a five or six-cornered contest this time round with the addition of Deepak as a candidate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Loh said his participation as the Pulai parliamentary candidate was based on his party’s final decision.
He was stunned to be named as a candidate to replace Deepak who was earlier named by PN.
“I was also quite shocked (with the decision), but I am also fully prepared,” he said.
Earlier, an early morning downpour saw most of the candidates and supporters arrive late at the Dewan Jubli Intan Sultan Ibrahim.
However, all three candidates managed to make their way to the nomination centre before 9am.
First to arrive was Nur Jazlan, who arrived at the main road leading to the nomination centre at 8.32am. He was accompanied by his wife Datin Rossana Jaafar and about 50 BN supporters.
This was followed by Salahuddin and his wife Datin Seri Fatimah Tahar. They were joined by more than 30 supporters holding PH banners and flags on the opposite side of the road.
Shortly after that, PN’s candidate Loh Kah Yong arrived and entered the nomination centre.
The Pulai parliamentary constituency is an urban south Johor seat bordering with Johor Baru and Iskandar Puteri parliaments.
BN was the dominant political coalition in the Pulai constituency from its establishment in 1974. However, the constituency fell to the Opposition PH coalition in the 2018 national polls.
It is a Malay majority seat, making up 51.23 per cent. The Chinese make up 36.88 per cent, followed by the Indians at 10.11 per cent and other races at 2.47 per cent.
Malaysians will go to the polls on November 19.