Malaysia GE15: PAS faces stiff competition to retain stronghold Kelantan
Some observers are expecting the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to put up a tough fight for the northeastern state at the Nov 19 polls.
KOTA BARU, Kelantan: Kelantan is almost synonymous with the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), which has run it for more than 30 years. But some are expecting the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to put up a stiff fight for the northeastern state at the Nov 19 general election.
The political parties have been out and about to win over some 1.4 million eligible voters in Kelantan, part of a deeply conservative Malay heartland.
At stake are 14 parliamentary seats. Eight seats will see four-cornered battles, five seats will feature five-cornered contests and one will have a six-cornered fight.
Socio-political analyst Awang Azman Pawi from the University of Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections said: “Both (PAS and UMNO) have the chance to win this general election by making use of the young votes, that means those aged 40 and below.
“Generally, those above 45 are more likely to support PAS, but those below 40 are more flexible and willing to experiment.”
APPEALING TO YOUNG VOTERS
To capture the youth votes, many of whom are hungry for change, the various political parties are fielding younger candidates and using social media to reach out to them.
Barisan Nasional (BN) Kelantan chairman Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub believes social media can play an important role in reaching young voters.
“The conventional ways are no longer effective for them. We are always educating, explaining, directly or indirectly, for the young to vote,” he added.
PAS youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said: "Whatever it is, a winnable candidate is definitely an important trait."
VOTING AMID FLOOD CONCERNS
Like many other parts of Malaysia, Kelantan is bracing for flash floods during the upcoming monsoon season. Schools, for instance, are prepared to double up as relief centres.
But some residents there are concerned over the safety of holding the federal election during this period.
“We will have to look at the situation. If it is raining or flooding, people will not go out,” said one voter.
Yet, others will do whatever it takes to cast their votes and make their voices heard.
One voter said: “We will still go out to vote even if it’s flooding, even if that means we have to take a boat.”
Kelantan is among the poorest states in Malaysia. Bread and butter issues such as the rising cost of living, and access to basic amenities like clean water will take centre stage at this general election.
The outcome may impact Kelantan voters' economic welfare and determine if remedial action will be taken to help many out of poverty, said observers.
“We are not concerned by which party will govern,” said one voter. “But we want a party that understands the people, knows our struggles and so on.”
Another voter added: “If they feel their welfare is ignored, they will vote for others. Everything is on the fence.”