Wednesday, January 07, 2009

RALLYING WITH MALAYSIAKINI: terengganu, a tight race.

The most colourful event during PRU12, must have been the true grit shown by Puan Maimon in Kuala Terengganu. A grandmother saved money for years to get into the true political action by cycling. It's not Jerit cycling, it's Perit cycling most of the time. I just want to share with Malaysiakini, what's in it in Rallying or political campaign.

2. Without Puan Maimon, the glitter is fading. Now it become a clear head-on collision between Umno and PAS. Both Umno and PAS are meant for the Malays, the bumiputera of the land. They were together once, crusading for the independence of Malaya, but they had to go separate ways for a slight difference in belief and inclination. They went on with the battle but their bounties are the same racial stock; the Malays.

3. Lets read what The sun has to say about the three of them, men with 3 labels, PAS, UMNO and an independent in a very tight race.

And they are off --- Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, PAS’s Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut and an independent candidate, businessman Azharuddin Mamat.

It is apparently such a tight race that only very few are willing to predict --- that, too, privately --- who would be hailed on Jan 17.

Most would rather give the clichéd reply that "it is too close to call."

The prize is Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency --- the jewel in Terengganu’s crown which has in it the state capital and the gleaming quarter billion ringgit touristic Taman Tamadun Islam --- won in 2004 and 2008 by the late affable Datuk Razali Ismail.

Very few seem to be in a hurry to dismiss the contest as just a fight between Umno and PAS --- the traditional adversaries --- after independent candidate octogenarian Maimun Yusof garned enough votes to give the victory to Razali in the March 8 general election.

More is at stake for the BN in this contest. After its disastrous outing in Permatang Pauh, it must win this one if it is to give credence to what its top leaders, Datuk Seri Najib Razak included, have been saying that the coalition is now on a revival course.

Defeat would give leaders of Pakatan Rakyat, the coalition of PKR, DAP and Pas, an opportunity to say that Permatang Pauh was not an exception but a continuation of what began on March 8. And Kuala Terengganu confirms it.

BN has put up what it believes to be the best possible candidate, a former advocate and solicitor, to retain Kuala Terengganu which fell to its rivals several times in the past, the latest being by PAS in 1999.

Even though Wan Farid is leader of the Kuala Terengganu Umno division, others in the party in the state say he is not the perfect candidate but they agree that he is acceptable to the various party factions, notably those linked to former menteri besar Datuk Idris Jusoh, who was snubbed from continuing as the state chief executive after the March 8 general election, and his successor Datuk Ahmad Said.

Wan Farid was former political secretary to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and until recently was a senator and deputy home minister. And Najib, who seems to be everywhere in Kuala Terengganu, has said that should he win, he would be deputy minister again.

"Now wouldn’t you want to vote for someone who is guaranteed of becoming deputy minister rather than someone who has no chance at all of becoming one," Najib told a large gathering of party workers when launching the BN electionary machinery for the Kuala Terengganu by-election at the Taman Tamadun Islam convention centre on Monday evening.

Of course, Wahid, the assemblyman of Wakaf Mempelam, cannot be deputy minister even if the voters of Kuala Terengganu decide that they have had enough of being represented by an Umno or BN man.

But the fact that he has been state assemblyman since 1990 must say something about the man, a former teacher.

It is not going to be easy for the BN and Najib has admitted as much.

But he has managed to elicit promises from the various factions to work together at least for this by-election. At the evening function on Monday, the MB was there and so was Idris. An elder of Terengganu Umno and MB for 25 years, Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Ahmad, was also there.

Najib’s speech that evening was a bit of everything --- pep talk, warning and even a little public washing of dirty linen. Wan Farid, seemingly a little elitist in his attitude towards the common folk --- a common complaint, it seems --- was reminded to be a little more humble.

It is not going to be plain sailing for PAS as well. While Wahid, an eleventh hour choice, is well-known and popular, it is mostly in his state constituency of Wakaf Mempelam.

Why he was chosen --- days after Wan Farid had already began campaigning --- when it was known that the candidate would be a toss between Terengganu PAS commissioner Datuk Mustafa Ali and Batu Burok assemblyman Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi only the top echelon of PAS knows.

Everyone knows that PAS, too, has problems but Hadi was only willing to say that the choice of Wahid was divine inspiration. [Tight race in Kuala Terengganu]