Tuesday, 8 May 2018

In Bukit Gantang, voters’ trust shift from incumbent PAS veep to Pakatan

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BUKIT GANTANG, May 8 — In 2013, PAS vice-president Idris Ahmad had won the parliamentary seat here by less than 1,000 votes, but voters have since attributed the victory to then Opposition pact Pakatan Rakyat.

With the Islamist party now absent in Pakatan Harapan (PH), voters told Malay Mail that it will be the latter’s candidate Khadri Khalid who may end up taking his mantle after May 9.

Lorry driver Zulnizam Ramli, 48, admitted that a three-cornered fight together with Barisan Nasional’s Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Hassan will split the votes, but he predicted the odds will instead favour PH.

"I believe PAS can't garner the votes which they had received in the 13th general election in this election, since PH had also fielded a candidate for the parliamentary seat,” he told Malay Mail.


"People might think the Opposition fraction would benefit Barisan Nasional (BN), but the answer is no. There is also a split in BN, where some of the supporters moved to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).”

A fisherman, who only wanted to be named as Ah Chun, said the pull of PPBM chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad would likely shift the Malay votes away from PAS.

"Many Malays started to support the PH after Mahathir joined the coalition. These are the factors which could give the victory to PH in the coming election," he said.

But the swing may not just be with the Malays. Chew Bing Kiong, 73, who owns a fishing equipment shop said that PAS could also lose the support of the Chinese community, which have contributed towards Idris’ previous win.

"In the previous election, the only reason Chinese voters voted for PAS was because they were under the Opposition.

"Now, PKR also fielded a candidate, no way they are going to vote for PAS instead of PKR. I believe about 85 per cent of the Chinese voters will vote for PH in this election," he said.

The Bukit Gantang constituency is home to 69,873 voters with Malay ethnic the majority at about 72 per cent, Chinese 19 per cent, Indians 8 per cent while the balance are others.

The majority of the people here comprise traders, fishermen, restaurant operators, farmers, hawkers and factory workers. There are also some civil servant and professionals.

In the previous election, Idris defeated BN's candidate Datuk Ismail Saffian with a majority of 986 votes.

With such a slim majority, voters felt that Idris’ chances are very much doubtful, with some expressing their disappointment over his five-year tenure as the MP.

"People here are not seeking for a major development or better facilities. Most of the people here are living a simple life.

"We only want the government to help us in our businesses, such as helping us with the license application, equipment for the business, loans and a few other necessary things," she said.

Rozaidi Nordin, 32, said that the incumbent MP did not take care of the needs of the small business operators.

“We don’t even have a kiosk to do our business. We have brought this matter to his attention, but there was no answer. We ended up operating at the road sides,” he said, referring to Idris.

"People here are not seeking for a major development or better facilities. Most of the people here are living a simple life,” Siti Fairus, 30, concurred.

"We only want the government to help us in our businesses, such as helping us with the license application, equipment for the business, loans and a few other necessary things.”
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