Uphill task in Bkt Gantang, says PAS

(Bernama) – PAS secretary-general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar said today the party would have an uphill task in retaining the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in the 7 April by-election now that the new Umno leadership was in place.

He said the new Umno president, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, assisted by the new deputy president, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and a new vice-president, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, were expected to go all-out to prove their capability in ensuring a Barisan Nasional (BN) victory.

Muhyiddin has been tasked with leading the BN campaign in all three by-elections on the same date, including in Bukit Selambau (Kedah) and Batang Ai (Sarawak) while Ahmad Zahid will lead the BN campaign machinery in Bukit Gantang.

Nevertheless, PAS was ready to face the BN campaign and reply to all issues raised, Kamaruddin told reporters after the nomination of candidates for the Bukit Gantang by-election at the Taiping Municipal Council hall here.

The by-election is a three-cornered contest among the BN's Ismail Saffian, 49, PAS's Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, 52, and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

Kamaruddin said he believed that the constituents knew how Mohammad Nizar and the Perak coalition government of DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and PAS had served the people following the 8 March general election last year.

PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa said the party could not afford to be complacent in facing the by-election because the BN election machinery was led by Muhyiddin and Ahmad Zahid.

As such, he said, PAS would focus on explaining to the people the objective of fielding Mohammad Nizar as its candidate.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the BN had the advantage in the by-election because it has adequate election machinery and facilities.

"Nevertheless, we will do the best we can for the DAP, PKR and PAS in the by-election," he said.

Lim, who is the Penang Chief Minister, said the DAP would campaign along with PAS and PKR to show that they were desirous of taking back the state government in Perak.

The Bukit Gantang by-election is being held following the death of its Member of Parliament, Roslan Shaharum of PAS, on 9 Feb.

He had won the seat in the general election last year by beating Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi of the BN and independent candidate M Muruganan with a majority of 1,566 votes.