PETALING JAYA - The MCA and the DAP are destined for a major slugfest in Johor in the coming general election.
In what many feel will be its biggest and riskiest election campaign in recent times, the DAP is said to be eyeing seven of the MCA's eight parliamentary seats.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has, however, dismissed the plan as a "touch and go" tactic aimed solely at winning seats and little concern over what happened next.
"The people of Johor still want elected representatives who are more grounded and can service the local community well," he said in an interview.
The latest name announced for Johor by the DAP on Thursday night was Bukit Bendera MP and party strategist Liew Chin Tong. whose move has been described as the party's worst-kept secret for weeks.
He will join party leader Lim Kit Siang who is moving from his constituency in Ipoh Timor to the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat.
Besides Liew, many of the party's brightest young leaders are poised to join him with hopes of putting up a formidable fight in the southern state.
Liew himself caught eyes when he wrote of a domino theory in Johor where just garnering more support in the state would go towards the much-needed 112-seat threshold to form the next Federal Government.
A party leader said the fight for Johor would be even bigger than DAP's past Tanjung campaigns in Penang when Kit Siang tried to take on the then Penang chief minister from Gerakan, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.
"Back then, it was just Kit Siang uprooting himself to go to Penang. But now he's not fighting alone and he's getting a whole legion to go with him," he said, adding that Johor would be the toughest state for their campaign.
DAP national assistant publicity secretary Teo Nie Ching, who was born and raised in Batu Pahat, is speculated to uproot herself from Serdang where she is a first-term MP to move to Johor as well.
Hotly tipped to move too is the popular Batu Gajah MP Fong Po Kuan, who has been wishing to join her Muar-based husband as well as her close ally Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran, who is speculated to move to the Segamat parliamentary seat.
The DAP will not be facing the battle alone. PAS has announced that its vice-president Salahuddin Ayub will contest in the state.
PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, meanwhile, is also expected to announce several other candidates from his party to contest in the state during a ceramah in Johor Baru.
MCA Youth chief Datuk Wee Ka Siong said that should DAP face off the MCA candidates, it only showed that they were intent on trying to kill off its party candidates who would otherwise be in Government.
Wee, who is two-term MP in Ayer Hitam, however said that they were ready for any challenges that the Opposition threw at them.
"We knew that this would happen and we must stay united to face the challenges ahead and not be frightened by their presence in Johor," he said.