GE13: Barisan making inroads in Kelantan

Kelantan has become almost synonymous with PAS as the Islamist party has ruled the conservative Malay heartland since 1990. However, Barisan’s hard work over the last few years is poised to bear fruit as the state opposition fine-tunes and ramps up its machinery.

All seats in the state which are made up of Malay majority seats are expected to see a straight fight between either PAS and Barisan or PKR and Barisan. The only seat with a substantial number of non-Muslim voters is Kota Lama, which was won by Datuk Anuar Tan Abdullah @ Tan Teng Loon of PAS with a 5,206 majority against Barisan candidate from MCA Tan Ken Ten.

Syed Azhar, The Star

KELANTAN has long been considered as a PAS stronghold, but consistent hard work by the Barisan Nasional machinery, helmed by its chief Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad, in the last two years has put the ruling party in a defensive mode.

Mustapa, in his trademark quiet and non-confrontational ways, has slowly been chipping at PAS’ defence, earning him a healthy respect from the people of Kelantan.

Whether this respect will be translated into votes for Barisan remains to be seen, but most programmes organised by Barisan in the state have received very good support from the people.

And Barisan’s persistence through its tukar (change the state government) programme, particularly its most successful “red wave” campaign a tag-line derived from the state’s football team has given it a ray of hope of not only bettering its performance from 2008 but also denying PAS another term of office in the state.

This coming general election is very important for PAS in Kelantan as it attempts to hold on to the state for the sixth term in the face of many issues, the biggest of which was the move by the state government to award 4,000ha of state land to Perak DAP leaders Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and Nga Kor Ming.

Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, in retaliation to Barisan’s constant attack against the state government, has fallen back on his old and trusted tactics of attacking Umno as unIslamic.

Lately, the state government has put up Islamic slogans on billboards nationwide to gain support from the 95% Malay Muslim majority electorate in the state.

And instead of clarifying the many issues highlighted by Barisan, like its failure to provide clean and consistent water supply, the uncontrolled clearing of forest reserves particularly in the Lojing highland, the ladang rakyat land issue and the RM2bil Lembah Sireh Waterfront project, the state government has blamed Barisan and Umno for everything that has gone wrong in both the state and the country.

In the 2008 general election, PAS and PKR won 12 out of the 14 parliamentary seats, but Barisan is now intending to wrest at least half of the total seats except for Pengkalan Chepa and Kubang Kerian, which are considered to be PAS fortresses. Incumbent Pengkalan Chepa MP is Datuk Abdul Halim Rahman while Kubang Kerian MP is party vice-president Salahuddin Ayob, who has been tipped to vacate the seat to contest in Johor.

Kelantan PAS, who has settled its distribution of Parliamentary and state seats with its ally PKR (five state seats and three parliamentary seats), is confident of winning by a two-thirds majority despite conceding that they may lose several of its present seats to Barisan.

All seats in the state which are made up of Malay majority seats are expected to see a straight fight between either PAS and Barisan or PKR and Barisan. The only seat with a substantial number of non-Muslim voters is Kota Lama, which was won by Datuk Anuar Tan Abdullah @ Tan Teng Loon of PAS with a 5,206 majority against Barisan candidate from MCA Tan Ken Ten.

Hot Seats


A battle royale is expected in the Kota Baru, Tanah Merah, Bachok and Pasir Mas parliamentary seats.

Kota Baru Umno division chief Datuk Mohd Fatmi Che Salleh is expected to take on five-term exco member Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan and despite the uphill task, he has been working hard to woo the majority Malay urban class voters over the past four years.

In the 2008 general election, Mohd Fatmi lost to PAS candidate Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah with a majority of 11,288.

Over in Tanah Merah, Umno division chief Datuk Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz is expected to contest PKR’s deputy state chief and incumbent Tanah Merah MP Amran Abdul Ghani, who defeated Barisan’s Shaari Hasan with a 1,584 majority in the 2008 elections.

In Pasir Mas, it is interesting to see whether maverick politician Datuk Ibrahim Ali, who won the seat on a PAS ticket in 2008, will defend his seat. And if he does, will he contest as a Barisan or an independent candidate? If he joins the fray as an independent, Pasir Mas will most probably see a three-cornered fight with Barisan and PAS candidates.

PAS, meanwhile, has two possible candidates for the seat Meranti assemblyman Datuk Nusuruddin Daud and Nik Abdul Aziz’s son, Nik Abduh, who is PAS Youth deputy chief.

Nik Abduh, who is riding on his father’s coat-tail, is also being considered for the Kubang Kerian parliamentary seat that will be vacated by Salahuddin.

In Bachok, Umno deputy chief Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin, who lost the seat to former PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, who has since lost his influence in the party, is expected to face Bachok veteran five-term PAS chief Datuk Omar Mohammed, 70.

According to PAS insiders, Omar, despite his age and heart problems, is the best candidate the party has to take on Dr Awang Adek, who is also Deputy Finance Minister II.

Bachok PAS Youth chief Ahmad Marzhuk Shaary is also a possible candidate to take on Dr Awang Adek while at the same time, PKR is lobbying to have the seat for its yet unnamed candidate.

In the last general election, Dr Awang Adek lost to Nasharuddin with a majority of 2,901 votes. PAS also swept all the seats within the constituency namely Tawang, Perupok and Jelawat.

Out of the 45 state seats, 38 were won by PAS and PKR, Of that, 10 were won by PAS and PKR candidates by majorities of less than 1,000.

These seats are Dabong-Kuala Krai (552), Air Lanas-Jeli (795), Kemuning-Machang (916), Selising-Pasir Puteh (783), Semerak-Pasir Puteh (831), Gaal-Pasir Puteh (323), Gual Periok-Rantau Panjang (733), Bukit Tuku-Rantau Panjang (456), Wakaf Baru-Tumpat (660) and Manik Urai in the Kuala Krai parliamentary constituency which was won by PAS with only 65 votes.

Meanwhile, for Barisan, of the seven seats it won, three were with a small majority Pengkalan Kubor-Tumpat (100), Kok Lanas- Ketereh (580) and Bukit Bunga-Jeli (348).

Political analysts have not given much hope for Barisan to take over Kelantan, but the coalition seems comfortable with the underdog tag as it plans to spring a surprise riding on the current feel-good factor and the good track record of the Federal Barisan Government.

High Profile Personalities

Mustapa, who is Jeli MP and International Trade and Industry Minister has been touted to be Mentri Besar should Barisan win Kelantan. For that to happen, he is said to also be contesting a state seat, Air Lanas, while at the same time defending his Jeli seat.

Longest serving MP, influential Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is expected to again defend his Gua Musang seat for the ninth successive time since 1969.

Nik Aziz, who is now 82, is also expected to defend his Chempaka state seat, making it his sixth term as a state assemblyman and probably Mentri Besar, should PAS maintain Kelantan.

Places of Interest

Kelantan, the cradle of Malay culture, has many cultural and natural attractions that have attracted millions of local and foreign visitors who have also been awed by its laid-back ambience and wide array of interesting delicacies unique to the state.

Kota Baru, the state capital, houses four museums showcasing war relics and the Kelantan Sultanate’s rich royal history, besides the internationally famous Pasar Siti Khadijah.

There are also the shoppers’ havens in Pengkalan Kubor and Rantau Panjang situated north of the state where everyday things including bed sheets can be bought for half the price they would fetch elsewhere.

The batik industry in the state is concentrated along the Cahaya Bulan beach area and is a must for first-time visitors to get the first-hand insight into the process of batik-making.

In the south, Dabong in the Kuala Krai district has Stong Waterfalls, the tallest waterfall in South-East Asia. It is a natural haven for adventurers who camp by the waterfall or in the centuries-old rainforest at the foot of Gunung Stong.

The Kuala Koh National Park, formerly known as the King George V National Park, in the Gua Musang district is an attraction for fishing enthusiasts.

Home of the Kelah (Malaysian Mahseer) fish sanctuary is a mere 10-minute boat ride from chalets and dormitories.

Visitors can also indulge in bird watching, jungle trekking, river rafting and visiting the orang asli settlement nearby.