Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chinese Votes Are The PAS Goal

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Yam Seng ! to you PAS ! Like one ! we have a dozen here !

By Joceline Tan

The PAS campaign centre in Kampung Baru, the biggest Chinese village in Galas, is not hard to miss.

It was festooned with PAS flags and posters of Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat, who is a popular figure among the Chinese.

The sweet and lilting vocals of Teresa Teng crooning her most famous song The Moon Reflects My Heart could be heard from within.

A pink Chinese lantern with the words huan yin, or welcome, was hanging at the front.

Those less than familiar with the changes in PAS would probably experience some form of culture shock over the party’s campaign style in the Galas by-election.

Inside, several Chinese men wearing PAS campaign buttons were seated around a table piled with campaign material that included a glossy pull-out on the proclamation of Sultan Muhammad V and which had lots of photographs illustrating the close ties PAS leaders have with the new Sultan.

PAS is pulling out all the stops to woo the Chinese vote.

The party’s campaign material has overwhelmed that of the Barisan Nasional, be it the ubiquitous plastic buntings or huge colourful banners of their candidate Dr Zulkefli Mohamed and other party bigwigs.

It is, after all, the incumbent and the party in power for no less than 20 years.

In contrast, posters of the Barisan Nasional candidate, Abdul Aziz Yusoff, started appearing only yesterday.

Yet, amid these outward displays of might and confidence, it is the Malay vote, which makes up a little over 60% of the electorate, that the party is most worried about at this point in time.

Its ceramah, even those featuring its president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, have sometimes drawn average-sized crowds.

DAP leaders have also lamented the small crowds but in the case of the local Chinese, it is because many of them are farmers who rise at 3am to tap their rubber trees, tend their vegetables farms in the morning, rest in the afternoons, eat dinner at 6pm and turn in at 8pm.

The Malay vote in Galas has been rather too quiet for comfort.

But the talk of the media fraternity was the PAS candidate’s lightning trip to Kuala Lumpur to meet voters working in the Klang Valley.

He left on Saturday night with party election director Datuk Halim Abdul Rahman and returned the next day.

It was the first time any candidate was known to campaign as far as Kuala Lumpur and it was odd to say the least.

“They need all the votes they can get,” said restaurateur Juhaidi Yean Abdullah, who is from Kelantan.

PAS’ offer of a RM250 subsidy to those who return to vote has also been quite controversial.

At a PAS press conference yesterday, a Suhakam official asked PAS election adviser Datuk Wan Rahim Wan Abdullah if the offer was tantamount to an election bribe.

Wan Rahim’s defence was that this was practiced by all political parties.

Everything is sensitive in a by-election and when the taps ran dry on Saturday, it became a campaign issue.

Water cuts are quite common in Gua Musang and Barisan politicians have made the most of it.

Another election issue was Kelantan’s victory in the prestigious Malaysia Cup final, with people asking which side stands to gain from it.

Wan Rahim, an avowed kaki bola, insisted that, “when it comes to football, we are all the same.”

But as everyone knows, the man behind the Kelantan football team is none other than Umno politician Tan Sri Annuar Musa.

Since he took charge of the Kelantan Football Association, the team has made it twice to the Malaysia Cup final before finally emerging as champions last Saturday.

Kelantanese take their football seriously and Annuar is walking tall.

Today, he is scheduled to take a victory drive through Galas town with Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Several days earlier, Tengku Razaleigh had compared the by-election to a friendly football game.

While the Malaysia Cup has gone to Kelantan, few are keen to predict who will win in the “Galas friendly”. - The Star

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