TUMPAT – With three days left to campaign, the competition is becoming more intense among the three candidates in their attempt to win over the hearts of 24,039 voters for the Pengkalan Kubor state by-election on Sept 25.
A total of 109 people were early voters as they voted today, for either Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Mat Razi Mat Ail, PAS candidate Wan Rosdi Wan Ibrahim and independent candidate Izat Bukhari Ismail Bukhary.
More focus is on Mat Razi and Wan Rosdi, while Izat Bukhary is trying his luck for a second time after losing his deposit in the 13th General Election.
“It is a 50-50 chance for BN and PAS candidates because Pengkalan Kubor is indeed, full of BN supporters but it is surrrounded by a PAS stronghold and the party’s advantage as the ruling party,” said a community leader who only wants to be known as Pak Im.
He said both candidates had their own strengths as they were known by Pengkalan Kubor residents.
According to Pak Im, 55, in terms of popularity, Mat Razi exceeds Wan Rosdi, and is fondly known as ‘ustaz’ after opening a madrasah on his land.
However, Mat Razi is also known by many as a school teacher and his hard work was rewarded by a promotion from a normal teacher to Tumpat district education deputy officer. He pursued his Bachelor’s Degree during his service.
“Mat Razi is well-known and respected in this area because he is considered an ‘ustaz’ by the villagers,” said Pak Im.
Wan Rosdi, who graduated from the Mara Skills Institute in the field of construction, is a contractor and well known by PAS members for his post as Tumpat PAS secretary.
According to local veteran political observer Ahmad Mustapa, 60, a candidate’s win will be determined by fence-sitters.
He said more than 5,000 voters in the area, especially traders, civil servants and housewives, were not tied to any political party and they were the ones who would determine a candidate’s win.
Because there was no issue to influence fence-sitters, PAS questioned Mat Razi’s ‘ustaz’ title which was given by the villagers themselves.
PAS alleged that Mat Razi was ineligible for the title as the BN candidate dressed formally to the office and only taught religious studies part-time.
Worse, there were even campaigns to degrade Mat Razi’s character, accusing the former teacher of having an ‘affair’.
Mat Razi, however, denied all allegations and described it as slander because he never had an affair, as alleged.
On his title as ‘ustaz’, Mat Razi explained that he never asked anyone to address him as such, but the villagers chose to.
PAS was also seen to be inconsistent in the issue of petroleum royalty claims when PAS election director, Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, said the Kelantan PAS did not want any party to use the issue to campaign in the coming by-election as it was an ongoing court case.
At the same time, its spiritual leader, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, in a ceramah for his campaign, issued a fatwa that the government’s reluctance to pay royalty was a sin in the world and hereafter.
After BN revealed the royalty claims of RM12 billion was slander, PAS moved on to the issue of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and asked the people to vote for PAS to protest the implementation of the GST next year.
The presence of Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in Pengkalan Kubor where he met with the people and explained the policies of the federal government resulted in a positive impact, whereby voters began to see the opposition’s lies.
Fisherman Ismail Mamat, who was one of those who attended a meeting with the deputy prime minister, said: “I urge the people of Pengkalan Kubor to open their eyes wide, look at BN’s work and don’t believe PAS’ lies”.
Meanwhile, independent candidate Izat Bukhary said it was disappointing that his campaign was not well received and nobody contacted him to join in a competition he organised to create the largest pen, despite the many prizes offered, which included a cash prize of over RM2,000.
The Pengkalan Kubor by-election is held after the death of its incumbent, Datuk Noor Zahidi Omar (BN), on Aug 20. – NST