Lim threw the challenge when he learnt that Dr Mahathir had gone to Gelang Patah to give talks to the voters there upon knowing that he is going to contest the parliament seat there.
Lim and Dr Mahathir has been on a political war path some 30 years or so but they have not face-off with each other as both have different sets of influence and supporters.
Lim is sectorial and that if he is to contest in a Malay majority seat, he may see his political career thrown down the drain while Dr Mahathir’s support comes from Malays and he may end up a loser if he contests in Chinese majority seats.
Lim’s challenge can be ‘considered’ as political gimmick, similarly if Dr Mahathir is to challenge Lim to contest in Kubang Pasu, Kedah as both will not meet on a neutral ground where the number of Malay and Chinese voters are equal or something of that configuration.
So the challenge is just a gimmick to heat up the pre-campaign trail as both sides of the political divide go on a vigorous and vicious routine that even saw fights between supporters.
For Lim and the DAP, winning a parliamentary seat in Johore is a moral booster as the Malay saying goes ‘bolos jarum, bolos la benang’ which means if the needle can go through then the thread will easily follow’.
For Lim and DAP, winning even just one parliamentary seat in a Malay dominated state as Johore reflects a victory in penetrating a Malay and Umno heartland which can be translated as the Malays are no longer united in supporting Umno and BN.
And for Lim, that also means to hurt Dr Mahathir emotionally and politically as the latter had build Umno and BN so strong to the extent that there was not much opposition when developing the country.
For 22 years Dr Mahathir enjoyed developing the country with Lim ‘barking’ without much effect and the Chinesse community continue to enjoy benefits without even being affected by the bumiputras quota.
But after March 2008 general election, the political landscape changes and everything else changed too where issues are no longer on development per se but contain racial undertones and smack religious innuendo.
For Dr Mahathir, defending Johore and the Malay heartland is deem a well worth struggle since he intends to bury Lim’s political career as well as the man he had trained so hard – Anwar Ibrahim.
Dr Mahathir’s ‘battle’ this time is not just winning as a non-partisan because he is not contesting but also to see the two men ‘politically buried’ if he can.
And Lim’s challenge may backfire if Dr Mahathir reciprocates seriously