Umno’s bid to contest in Permatang Pauh gets icy response

Voters have thrown cold water on Umno’s bid to contest in one of the three state seats in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, citing the party’s history of racial policies and alleged corruption.

(FMT) – The three seats are Seberang Jaya, Penanti and Permatang Pasir.

In the last state election, PKR won in Seberang Jaya and Penanti, and Amanah in Permatang Pasir, but Permatang Pauh Umno chief Zaidi Said recently said Pakatan Harapan (PH) should consider giving a seat to Umno as a gesture of goodwill to its federal government ally.

Suhaimi Saad, a 62-year-old retiree from Permatang Pasir, said the PH incumbents should be allowed to defend their seats in the coming state election.

“This is because of the corruption within Umno that has become ingrained in its culture,” the long-time PH supporter told FMT. “Even though Umno develops its constituencies, there are leakages when they undertake projects for the rakyat.”

However, he said should the Permatang Pasir seat be given to Umno, he would vote for the candidate as long as the person was endorsed by PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim and free of corruption.

Seberang Jaya voter T Marathamuthu, 72, said he would not vote in the state election if the seat was given to Umno.

The retiree claimed Umno had caused “60 years of damage” to the country with its racial politics. He said this was in contrast to the multiracial, liberal politics practised by DAP and PKR.

Marathamuthu also pointed to the party’s push for former prime minister Najib Razak to receive a royal pardon for his conviction on corruption-related charges. “Many are opposing the move, so I don’t see why Seberang Jaya should be given to Umno,” he told FMT.

Another Seberang Jaya voter, who preferred to be known only as Navin, said Umno would never be able to win over non-Malay voters who had grown comfortable with PH.

He said Umno’s racial politics were “off-putting”, and criticised the party for racial discrimination in the awarding of higher education scholarships, which he said had disadvantaged a lot of talented Indian youths.

Candidate’s quality a priority for youths

Not everyone felt the same animosity towards Umno. Permatang Pasir voter Shawal Ramlee, 29, said he was not bothered by Umno’s bid to contest in the constituency as he would vote based on the candidate’s qualities, and not their party affiliation.

“I just hope whoever wins can do their job well and serve the rakyat, regardless of which party they belong to.”

Another young voter in his 20s from Seberang Jaya, who preferred to be known only as Jegathis, echoed Shawal’s sentiments. “The candidates should be people who will listen to our needs and problems. And their manifestos should be practical,” he said.