Commentary Politics

Umno had a good hold on Kelantan but let it slip in 1990

umno-pas-ed

IF there is one thing that Kelantan and Terengganu have in common it’s the conspicuous presence of PAS but the east coast states’ political similarity however ends there.

While the Islamist party has formidable clout in the former, the one in its southern neighbour Terengganu has only succeeded in beating its traditional rival the Barisan Nasional only twice since independence.

But although the state is synonymous with PAS, BN or its smaller predecessor Alliance once ruled Kelantan for 16 years in a row, from September 15, 1974, to October 19, 1990.

The coalition’s first rule in Kelantan was when PAS became a member of BN following the May 13 racial riot that came about after the 1969 general elections.

Because PAS had the most number of seats in the 1974 elections – 22 or 61.11 per cent compared to Umno’s and MCA’s 14 seats – the Kelantan mentri besar came from PAS.

However, the tenure of Datuk Mohamad Nasir endured a rough ride after PAS assemblymen accused him of becoming a puppet to Umno and that he had a penchant for supporting an Umno-friendly agenda.

The dissatisfaction against Mat Nasir continued to brew to the point that a no-confidence motion was tabled in the state assembly, with 20 PAS assemblymen supporting and those from Umno and MCA walking out in protest.

Mat Nasir refused to resign and requested the Regent of Kelantan –w ho was the head of state because his father was the Agong – to dissolve the state assembly to make way for an election but was refused.

This resulted in an impasse which triggered a rowdy street demonstration in Kota Bharu orchestrated by Mat Nasir’s supporters that quickly blossomed into an all-out violent protest, forcing the King to issue the country’s fifth and last declaration of emergency on November 8, 1977.

Apparently this cost PAS dearly in the following year’s elections, when it managed to win only 2 state seats or 5.56 per cent as compared to BN’s 63.89 per cent.

And it was not until in the 1990 elections that PAS managed to wrest the state from BN, with the latter wiped out after the former allied itself with Umno’s splinter party Semangat 46 (S46).

S46 was headed by former finance minister Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah who left Umno following the infamous Team A-Team B leadership tussle.

“Ku Li (Razaleigh) was very influential among Kelantanese,” said former PAS vice-president Husam Musa. “Although PAS would still be able to take back Kelantan, BN would not have been crippled if it wasn’t for Ku Li.”

Although Ku Li eventually disbanded S46 and returned to Umno in 1996, BN never recovered any substantial grounds in Kelantan.

The only trouble PAS encountered was in 2004, when it secured a narrow victory of 24 seats against BN’s 21.

“We felt that Umno was going to change for the better after Mahathir retired from politics and passed the torch to Pak Lah,” was the view echoed by a group of elderly Kelantanese at a coffee shop in Kota Bharu. “Mind you unlike Mahathir, Pak Lah is quite a religious person.”

The scenario in Terengganu, however, is the complete opposite as BN was never under serious threat since the state had its first pre-Merdeka election in 1954.

The only two defeats BN was dealt with were in 1959 and 1999, with many of the older generation pointing out that the latter was due to the Reformasi movement following the sacking of then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“Back then, we were really fond of Anwar. He is well-educated and religious, that is why many were upset when he appeared on television with a black eye,” said a 70-year-old eatery owner in Kuala Terengganu.

Where the locals’ reasoning of the 1999 loss pivoted towards Anwar, the more erudite veteran members in Umno pointed out to another factor that contributed to the defeat.

“Wan Mokhtar had overstayed his welcome,” said one of them in Kemaman, while several others nodded in agreement.

He was referring to Terengganu’s longest serving MB Tan Sri Wan Mokhtar Wan Ahmad who stayed in office for 25 years from September 1, 1974, to December 2, 1999.

“I heard that he was hospitalised when he saw the 1999 election results,” quipped another Terengganu Umno veteran.

The PAS victory in Terengganu however was short lived as they were voted out in the following election, with BN regaining the 28 state seats it had lost in 1999.

The swing, said Kemamam Umno division secretary Rosli Ahmad, was due to PAS’ uncouth and inconsiderate governance throughout its five-year stint.

Rosli said the most influential factor that broke the proverbial back of many Terengganites was the state-wide closure of almost all federal government-funded kindergartens.

“Most of these kindergartens were housed within buildings owned by the state government and back then PAS could not stomach the idea of allowing anything related to BN to operate in state-owned buildings

“PAS had also disbanded all JKKs (state government-funded welfare and safety committee in villages) and created a similar outfit called JSR with positions taken up by their people,” Rosli recalled.

It was based on such a bad track record that Rosli strongly believed that the majority of Terengganites will not vote for PAS, adding that unlike the Kelantanese, they know all too well that PAS is an all-talk party.

That said, the results from the 2013 elections in which BN secured a hair’s breadth victory of 17 seats against PAS’ 14 seats seem to indicate that many had buried the hatchet against the Islamist party.

“We are different now,” said Sulaiman Sulong, a PAS candidate who is vying for the Pengkalan Berangan state seat. “We have been getting tremendous support since the party opted for a more mature and peaceful political approach.”

The country’s newest kid on the block, the opposition Pakatan Harapan, does not have a big presence in Terengganu and it looks like Pakatan will need nothing short of a miracle to pull a Malay tsunami here.

Unfortunately for Pakatan, time is running out.

 Comparison of electoral results in Kelantan and Terengganu

State

Party

Seats won

Percentage

1954 – total seats: Terengganu: 15

Terengganu

Alliance

15

100

PAS

Nil

Nil

1955 – total seats: Kelantan: 16

Kelantan

Alliance

16

100 per cent

PAS

Nil

Nil

1959 – total seats: Kelantan — 30; Terengganu — 24

Kelantan

Alliance

2

6.67 per cent

PAS

28

93.33 per cent

Terengganu

Alliance

7

29.17 per cent

PAS

13          

54.17 per cent

1964 – total seats: Kelantan — 30; Terengganu — 24

Kelantan

Alliance

9

30.00 per cent

PAS

21

70.00 per cent

Terengganu

Alliance

21

87.50 per cent

PAS

3            

12.50 per cent

1969 – total seats: Kelantan –30; Terengganu — 24

Kelantan

Alliance

11

36.67 per cent

PAS

19

63.33 per cent

Terengganu

Alliance

13

54.17 per cent

PAS

11

45.83 per cent

1974 – total seats: Kelantan — 36; Terengganu — 28

Kelantan

BN (Umno and MCA)

14

38.89 per cent

PAS

22

61.11 per cent

Terengganu

BN (Umno and MCA)

18

64.28 per cent

PAS

9

32.14 per cent

1978 – total seats: Kelantan — 36; Terengganu — 28

Kelantan

BN

23

63.89 per cent

PAS

2            

5.56 per cent

Terengganu

BN

28

100.00 per cent

PAS

Nil

Nil

1982 – total seats: Kelantan — 36; Terengganu — 28

Kelantan

BN

26

72.22 per cent

PAS

10

27.78 per cent

Terengganu

BN

23

82.14 per cent

PAS

5            

17.86 per cent

1986 – total seats: Kelantan — 39; Terengganu — 32

Kelantan

BN

29

74.36 per cent

PAS

10

25.64 per cent

Terengganu

BN

30          

93.75 per cent

PAS

2

6.25 per cent

1990 – total seats: Kelantan — 39; Terengganu — 32

Kelantan

BN

Nil

Nil

PAS

24          

61.54 per cent

Semangat 46

14

35.90 per cent

Terengganu

BN

22

68.75 per cent

PAS

8

25.00 per cent

Semangat 46

2

6.25 per cent

1995 – total seats: Kelantan — 43; Terengganu — 32

Kelantan

BN

7

16.28 per cent

PAS

24

55.81 per cent

Semangat 46

12

27.91 per cent

Terengganu

BN

25          

78.13 per cent

PAS

7

21.88 per cent

1999 – total seats: Kelantan — 43; Terengganu — 32

Kelantan

BN

2

4.65 per cent

PAS

41

95.35 per cent

Terengganu

BN

4            

12.50 per cent

PAS

28

87.50 per cent

2004 – total seats: Kelantan — 45; Terengganu — 32

Kelantan

BN

21          

46.67 per cent

PAS

24          

53.33 per cent

Terengganu

BN

28

87.50 per cent

PAS

4

12.50 per cent

2008 – total seats: Kelantan — 45; Terengganu — 32

Kelantan

BN

6            

13.33 per cent

PAS

38          

84.44 per cent

Terengganu

BN

24

75.00 per cent

PAS

8            

25.00 per cent

2013 – total seats: Kelantan — 45; Terengganu — 32

Kelantan

BN

12          

26.67 per cent

PAS

32          

71.11 per cent

Terengganu

BN

17

53.1 per cent

PAS

14

43.8 per cent

 

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Zaidi Azmi and Ahirul Ahirudin