TUMPAT – Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Mat Razi Mat Ail has become the subject of PAS’ grouses as the Pengkalan Kubor by-election campaign period enters its fourth day.
The PAS’ by-election machinery seems uneasy over the candidacy of BN’s respected 48-year-old candidate, who also founded and owns the Maahad Tahfiz Pondok Simpangan religious school, regarding him as unworthy of being called an ustaz (religious teacher) and asked that villagers stop calling him that.
PAS candidate Wan Rosdi Wan Ibrahim, 56, said Mat Razi was ineligible to be called ustaz because he was once a civil servant and dressed formally when carrying out his religious duties.
In response to this, Mat Razi said he never asked to be called ustaz but the term was given by villagers after he opened up a madrasah (religious school).
He set up the religious school on his land where 50 students are currently studying for free.
Mat Razi, formerly Tumpat district education officer, remains calm amid such allegations as he only wants to focus on solving the people’s problems and to plan additional development for the area.
Today, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin slammed PAS’ insults against Mat Razi and described the party’s action as a desperate attempt because it has no real issues to play up.
However, he said, the personal attack would not affect voter support for BN.
“I don’t see any big issues here and PAS is attacking our candidate because they know our candidate is well-liked and excellent.
“One of their (PAS) strategies is personal attack against the (BN) candidate. Even I myself did not attack the opposition candidate in my speeches. Nevermind, they are scared, perhaps,” he told reporters at Mat Razi’s house in Kampung Simpangan, here, yesterday.
Pak Din, in his 70s, was one of the PAS supporters met and asked why Mat Razi’s ustaz title was being questioned.
“He is not an ustaz, he (Mat Razi) is a school teacher and he teaches the Quran,” he told reporters at a coffee shop in Pengkalan Kubor.
Meanwhile, Kampung Simpangan resident Mohamad Asri Ismail, 51, said the opposition were not living in reality and loved to use slander to mislead voters.
“I’ve known Mat Razi since we were small and we studied in the same school. I know where he is after office hours too. He teaches the Quran and imparts religious knowledge.”
He said Mat Razi also gave religious talks after Maghrib prayers at the Mukim Simpangan Hilir Mosque next to his home and that was why he was called ustaz.
Political observer, Universiti Utara Malaysia Adjunct Professor Datuk Hasan Haron said BN chose the right candidate because of his religious knowledge and work experience which made him close to the community.
He said it was normal during by-elections for local issues to be highlighted, but it must be remembered that in a state governed by PAS, the party had a role in addressing the issues.
However, the question is what has been developed by the state government because most of the projects in Pengakalan Kubor and Kelantan in general are contributed by the federal government.
“In the by-election campaign, PAS is seen trying to divert voters’ attention to other issues to hide their weaknesses,” said Hasan.
The Pengkalan Kubor by-election will see a three-cornered fight between Mat Razi, PAS candidate Wan Rosdi Wan Ibrahim and independent candidate Izat Bukhary Ismail Bukhary.
It is being held following the death of its incumbent, Datuk Noor Zahidi Omar, 57, from liver cancer on Aug 20. The Election Commission has set Sept 25 for polling.
In the 13th General Election last year, Noor Zahidi defeated PKR candidate Saharun Ibrahim and Izat Bukhary (Independent) with a 1,736-vote majority. – Bernama