KOTA BHARU – April 24, 2018: While there a number of multiple-cornered contests are expected in Kelantan come May 9, this state northeast of the peninsular is predominantly dyed in green and dark blue.
In certain parts, such as Jeli and Gua Musang, dark blue flags and banners representing the Barisan Nasional top those of the green from PAS but these two constituencies are strongholds of BN.
But as one heads deeper towards the state capital Kota Bharu, stretches of green flags neatly placed along the roads and bridges are conspicuously never-ending but in the town itself the two colours look to be of equal numbers.
Thus what is seen on the ground does not what you read at social media, which gives the impression that there is a strong presence by the light blue and orange — colours representing the opposition Pakatan Harapan and the PAS splinter party and Pakatan member, Amanah.
A group of PAS party workers said that while Pakatan portrays itself on social media as being able to make major inroad in Kelantan, the reality is that its has little presence in Kelantan.
“Honestly, the coming elections will be a PAS-BN fight. Pakatan may be good at spinning facts and spreading hatred but Kelantanese are more mature than they think,” said party workers in Kota Lama.
When the lack of Pakatan flags was mentioned to Kelantan Pakatan chairman Husam Musa, he retorted by saying that unlike PAS and BN, his party is not funded by millionaires.
“If you have money you can buy lots of flags but I assure you the people here, they want change and they see that PAS is unable to give them that,” declared Husam, who was sacked from PAS two years ago.
Husam is contesting in the Kota Bharu parliamentary seat whose incumbent member of parliament is PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan.
Takiyuddin is a first time MP who won in 2013 after netting 40,620 votes or 62.09 per cent against BN’s Mohamad Fatmi Che Salleh who secured only 24,650 votes.
Husam is confident he has the advantage in a multiple-cornered fight because under such circumstances, Pakatan only needs about 37 per cent of the votes to win.
“Voters will swing to our side as most of them are starting to see PAS’ friendliness with BN. They are convinced that PAS is indirectly helping BN by being a spoiler to Pakatan.
“First they (PAS) said that it will contest in 40 parliamentary seats. Then they upped it to 80, 100, 120 and now they want to contest 160 seats. This confirms the people’s suspicion of the PAS-BN cooperation,” said Husam.
In Kota Bharu, the fight so far appears to be a three-cornered contest by PAS, Pakatan and BN and because a split is expected in the Malay votes, the 16 per cent Chinese voters could turn out to be the kingmaker.
The bulk of the Chinese in Kota Bharu live in a state constituency called Kota Lama and when it comes to political affiliation, DAP Kelantan chief Chua Chin Hui claimed that they are supportive of Pakatan.
Some do appear to lean towards Pakatan due to the pact’s promise to abolish the Goods and Services Tax which they believe will be able to reduce the cost of living.
“I used to pay little attention to Kelantan politics because there was little the Chinese could do here but now since it’s a multiple-cornered fight we are able to play a decisive role,” said a storekeeper who wants to be known only as Foo.
Despite her support for Pakatan, Foo points out that BN’s candidate for Kota Lama, Chua Hock Kuan of MCA, has formidable clout here, adding that the locals are very fond of him.
“I grew up here, so I know what the locals’ grouses are. In fact, I dare say I know the locals here better than the incumbent Anuar Tan (assemblyman Datuk Anuar Tan Abdullah of PAS),” said Hock Kuan, who is a newcomer to elections.
“In Kelantan, the deciding factors are not like in other huge cities. The people here highly value a party’s ability to service its constituents and how the candidate mingles with us,” he added.
If he wins, the first thing that Hock Kuan wants to do is to tidy up Kota Lama because he is simply dissatisfied with the level cleanliness.
“I want to concentrate on improving the basic aspects of this place first. It may sound unambitious to some but to the people here, their welfare is more important than some corporate issues like 1MDB,” said Hock Kuan.