It is both literally and politically hot in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar.
The hot climate was not entirely surprising because Ramadhan literally means ‘intense heat of the sun’ in Arabic.
And the political heat encapsulating the two constituencies was also rather predictable as both areas were being prepped up for the upcoming June 18 by-elections.
Sungai Besar is set for a three-way electoral showdown between Barisan Nasional (BN), Pas and Amanah whereas Kuala Kangsar will see four-cornered fight between BN, Pas, Amanah and an independent candidate.
But despite the heat of the holy month, a lot of political happenings have been going on in the two constituencies.
In Sungai Besar, both BN and Amanah tried to woo Chinese voters that make up 30.68 per cent of voters in the constituency.
BN with the aid Gerakan and MCA tends to approach the Chinese, especially those in Sekinchan during the day whereas Amanah chooses to rally in such areas during the night.
Be that as it may, their campaigns were nonetheless poles apart.
BN’s strategies were geared towards solving local issues, community services and spiritual engagements with the residents of Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar.
Temples were visited during the day and mosques were frequented in the night.
The opposition, on the other hand, opted for a two pronged strategy.
As usual, they raised national issues such as the goods and services tax, 1Malaysia Development Berhad and the RM2.6 billion political donation controversy and at the same time, listed out rosy accolades achieved by the opposition-led states.
The Pakatan Harapan’s governance, according to DAP publicists Tony Pua, was “world class” and he insisted that was why Penang was voted as the ‘eight islands you must see before you die’ by Yahoo! Travel.
Pua, confidently told residents of Sungai Besar that the constituency will be able to achieve similar feat if they voted for Amanah in the upcoming by-election.
However, in the midst of campaigning, it appears that the opposition, specifically Amanah and DAP, had taken things a little too far.
In mere four days of campaigning, some of their leaders had already courted controversies in the two constituencies.
In Kuala Kangsar, Amanah deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin gained instant notoriety among the locales after saying that the death of Datuk Wan Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad (the former members of parliament for Kuala Kangsar) was a divine retribution from God.
“I know he had already apologised and Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid (Wan Khair-il’s widow) forgave him but the people in Kuala (Kuala Kangsar) are definitely not happy with Amanah,” said a junior reporter who is stationed at Kuala Kangsar.
“Politics aside, making fun of the dead is a big no-no among the Malays, especially in a close-knit area like Kuala Kangsar where everybody practically knows everyone,” he added.
However, in Sungai Besar it was DAP that had landed Amanah in hot soup.
The Chinese-dominated party had irresponsibly erected several racist and provocative billboards in Sekinchan despite being warned not to do so by the Election Commission (EC).
Obviously, they defended their action stressing that they were merely reminding the people of Sungai Besar the true colours of BN.
Be that as it may, the billboards were then taken down by the EC.
Now with all these commotions ensuing in both constituencies, many had expected that Pas would have also contributed to some of the noises, but that did not happen.
Staying true to their newly-established political precepts of ‘mature politicking’, Pas, so far, was probably the most peaceful of the lot.
Armed with its newest ally, Ikatan, Pas seemed to be relatively fine, since its bitter fallout with former Pakatan Rakyat allies last year.
They went door-to-door to help the poor in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, organised iftars and performed the tarawikh prayers with them in local mosques and that’s that.
Pas’ approach was so peaceful, at least by political standards, to the point that many had deemed that their campaigns seemed to be rather uneventful.
As it is, the most aggressive ploy that Pas has been doing so far was reminding the Malays that Amanah is a stooge of DAP and that DAP is against Islam.