PEKAN – April 28, 2018: It was intensely hot and humid for those gathered at a field outside the Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah convention hall here today and on a normal day, no one would have thought about being there under the scorching sun.
But today is not a normal day. It is nominations day for the country’s 14th general elections and Pekan is where caretaker Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been the member of parliament since four decades back.
True to its reputation as a Barisan Nasional stronghold, most of those waiting for the Election Commission to announce the contestants were mostly clad in the coalition’s dark blue.
Since becoming its MP, Najib Razak was troubled only once, and that was in 1999 when he only managed to beat his PAS contender Ramli Mohamed by only 241 votes.
Najib has however prevailed in the other elections with more than convincing majority.
While the dark blue was expected, seeing very little of the opposition Pakatan Harapan was quite unbelievable.
Unbelievable because it does not quite represent the intentions of a pact that is hell-bent on wiping out Najib and BN.
In fact, the designated assembly area for Pakatan was left with nothing but a handful of PKR flags by 9.27 a.m. after the few supporters had gone looking for some shade.
On the other hand, the hundreds from PAS had assembled in the middle of the field with some of its staunch members persuading those who wanted to take shelter to stand their ground until the EC’s official announcement.
A local journalist however said he were not surprised by the low turnout of Pakatan supporters.
“This is the third time I’m covering nominations day here and it has always been a fight between PAS and BN,” he said.
“Now that PR (Pakatan Rakyat) is broken and PAS chosen a different path, it is back to square one, where the only real opposition in Pekan is PAS,” he added.
Supporters said they were there to send a message to Najib.
BN supporters said they has no problem bathing under the hot sun to express their gratitude to Najib, PAS supporters came to express their intention to topple Najib while Pakatan’s supporters were here to express their dissatisfaction with Najib.
Interestingly, most of the small group if Pakatan supporters were Felda settlers who had a thing or two to say about Felda officers.
Those who came to Pekan today would have also noticed the scarcity of Pakatan’s flags in the royal town which was indicative of the state of the opposition’s machinery in Najib’s turf.
Against such a backdrop it was a no-brainer why Najib was smiling broadly as he faced the crowd.