Salleh Man’s role in Permatang Pasir

(The Nut Graph) THE fate of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) in Penang rests on the shoulders of one man, Mohd Salleh Man. If the PAS candidate in the Permatang Pasir by-election loses at the polls tomorrow on 25 Aug 2009, the alliance will have no co-operation to speak of within the state government.

PAS is defending its only seat in the Penang legislative assembly, in which the DAP has 19, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) nine, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) opposition 11.

"We cannot afford to lose this seat or the pact at state-government level comes undone. Winning will prove that the Pakatan Rakyat is alive in Penang," PKR elections director Saifuddin Nasution tells The Nut Graph.

Salleh hopes to take over the reigns from the late assemblyperson Datuk Mohamad Hamdan Abdul Rahman, whose death on 31 July necessitated this by-election. Hamdan held the seat for three terms and was known as a gracious and popular elected representative.

Salleh, 55, is soft spoken and has a heavy local accent that makes it hard for out-of-towners to fully understand him. He comes across as an amiable "pak cik", although many call him "ustaz" because of his career in religious teaching.

The Penang PAS commissioner has been active in local PAS politics ever since graduating from Universiti Malaya with an Islamic studies degree. Interestingly, Salleh has contested six times in previous elections in the Pinang Tunggal, Permatang Berangan and Sungai Dua state seats, and also in the Tasek Gelugor parliamentary seat, but never won.

This time, he believes it will be different.

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