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PAS may face tricky battle to win over Kelantan state amid economic slowdown

Even at the Siti Khadijah Market in the heart of the city, one of its busiest spots, some stall owners have reported slower business compared to pre-COVID times.

 

PAS may face tricky battle to win over Kelantan state amid economic slowdown

Even at the Siti Khadijah Market in the heart of the city, one of its busiest spots, some stall owners have reported slower business compared to pre-COVID times.

KOTA BARU, Kelantan: Many voters in the Malaysian Islamic Party-run state of Kelantan view spiritual wealth as the cornerstone of their lives, with sentiments that material things do not matter.

However, with the country's 15th General Election looming on Nov 19, some Kelantanese are hoping for more development in the state which for more than three decades, has been governed by the Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS.

Economic development has been gradual in the northeastern state.

Residents are happy that infrastructural problems like roads and clean water supply in the state, which has a chiefly agriculture economy, are being fixed.

The state government has promised greater economic growth for the future, approving several basic infrastructure projects, such as the upgrading of the city’s airport.

Modern hyper-marts common in other parts of the country, like Aeon and Lotus's, have also cropped up in recent years, creating new jobs.

But voters hope that even more can be done.

“We are still left behind in terms of progress, with development, with facilities as well as infrastructure. My hope is that Kelantan will be able to be on par with other states that have already progressed,” one potential voter told CNA.

ECONOMIC SLOWDOWN, BRAIN DRAIN

Services make up about 70 per cent of the local economy, including thousands of micro-businesses. But things have not been looking good for some of them.  

Even at the Siti Khadijah Market in the heart of the city, one of its busiest spots, some stall owners have reported slower business compared to pre-COVID times.

From chicken sellers to snack sellers, many told CNA that their businesses have taken a hit, with fewer patrons and an increase in the cost of their goods.

“Now we are trying to crawl, step by step,” said one chicken stall owner.

They’re hoping for more support from the authorities, such as improvements to infrastructure.

The state is also facing a brain drain. Many, especially the young, are seeking greener pastures elsewhere, such as in Kuala Lumpur or Putrajaya.

SOLUTIONS FOR THE STATE

Dr Saadiah Mohamad, an economics professor at the University of Selangor, said one solution to curb the loss of talent could lie in the agricultural sector, which contributes a “big proportion” to the state’s GDP.

She added that areas like modern technology, agrifarms and agribusinesses have to be “seriously developed because the demand is there”.

 “You need to motivate the youth. They do not have to go to Kuala Lumpur, or even Singapore or Penang,” she said.

Analysts also said more can be done to uncover the potential of the tourism sector in Kelantan, a cradle of various forms of Malay cultural heritage, including giant kites called the wau bulans.

It could also promote faith tourism, as seen in other areas like Lombok, Indonesia, which is branding itself as a “Muslim-friendly” tourism destination. 

Dr Saadiah said that Kelantan needs a facelift, cleanliness, and branding and marketing. 

She added that policy makers have to adopt a more open attitude when coming up with policies and solutions to improve governance and the effectiveness of administration in the state. 

“A change is needed but it depends on the people of Kelantan,” she said.

Source: CNA/ja(fk)

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