Polling begins with PAS set to keep Manek Urai

(The Malaysian Insider) KUALA KRAI, July 14 – Polling for the Manek Urai by-election began this morning with PAS leaders already predicting victory, but with a reduced margin.

Despite promises of new infrastructure projects in this rural constituency, including a wider bridge and bigger mosques, PAS believes that the Barisan Nasional (BN) will be defeated due to the drop in rubber price compared to last year.

“About 80 per cent of the people here depend on the rubber industry, their income have been slashed to half compared to during last year’s general election,” said Kuala Krai MP Dr Hatta Ramli.

He told The Malaysian Insider yesterday that the promised new bridge linking two villages, Manek Urai Baru and Lama will not sway the PAS supporters.

Nothing is going to stop the voters from casting their ballots today. – Picture by Danny Lim

“Of course it is a good offer, to build a new bridge, but the villagers will not vote based on the project alone, it is not an issue, they understand it is congested now due to the presence of many outsiders, it is peaceful during normal days,” said Dr Hatta.

“For example you look at the congestion after the ceramah, are they going to upgrade all the roads in Kuala Krai into eight-lane roads,” he added.

PAS have been relying heavily on the drop in rubber prices and the federal government’s responsibility to pay RM1billion oil royalty for petroleum extracted off the Kelantan shore as issues to keep the seat.

Its Kuala Krai division treasurer Fauzi Abdullah, a 50-year-old fish wholesaler is facing Kuala Krai Umno Youth chief Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat, a 39-year-old former Kesedar officer in a straight fight for the seat.

PAS supporters gather outside the SK Manek Urai polling centre.

BN candidate Tuan Aziz responded with “Insya Allah” (God willing) when asked to predict his chances of taking victory today.

PAS supporters also started with the psychological intimidation, and began shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (God is great!) when Tuan Aziz left the SK Manek Urai polling centre.

Both are not voting in the seat as they are registered in the adjoining Guchil state seat.

Meanwhile PAS sources now put the margin of victory to be around 800 votes, lower compared to what was achieved in last year’s general election where PAS’s Ismail Yaacob defeated Mohamed Zulkifli Omar of BN by 1,352 votes.

“We are still calling the outstation voters to come back tomorrow, some of them have returned some have only promised to come back, we’ll see,” said a PAS official who declined to be named.

He added that majority would be close to the last year’s results if the turnout among outstation voters is high.

Read more at: Polling begins with PAS set to keep Manek Urai