PETALING JAYA: Unlike most parliamentary constituencies, Kuala Kangsar has already witnessed an electoral clash between the three predominantly Malay parties of Umno, PAS and Amanah ahead of the 14th general election (GE14).
Kuala Kangsar Amanah chief Ahmad Termizi Ramli however believes the defeat suffered by the party in the June 2016 by-election does not reflect on its chances in the upcoming polls.
He said voters had allowed Umno to win the seat as they knew the result could not have led to a change in government.
Recent surveys by Amanah showed that 60% of the people there now rejected Umno, which leads the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government, he added.
“So I believe we can win if the election is fair,” said Ahmad, who was Amanah’s candidate in the by-election.
Ahmad added that Amanah, formed by former PAS members in September 2015, had still been new during the by-election. However, he said the party had since garnered increased support, including from traditional PAS supporters.
He said that people suffering from the high cost of living and alleged mismanagement under BN knew that PAS was not taking the necessary steps to save the country.
“The reality is, people know that for change to happen, only Pakatan Harapan (PH) can save Malaysia,” he told FMT.
According to him, PAS will not be able to get more than 30% of the Malay votes in Kuala Kangsar.
He added that locals had expressed a preference for PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is PH’s prime ministerial candidate if it wins GE14, to lead the country.
The constituency in Perak has about 36,000 voters, with Malays comprising an estimated 71%, Chinese 22% and Indians 7%.
It has been a BN stronghold since it was formed in 1959. Former Wanita Umno chief and federal minister Rafidah Aziz, now a government critic, was MP there from 1986 to 2013.
The by-election was called following the death of BN MP Wan Mohd Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad in a helicopter crash in Sarawak on May 5, 2016.
He had won the seat with a majority of 1,082 votes in the general election of May 2013 against PAS’ Khalil Idham Lim Abdullah and independent Kamilia Ibrahim, a former Wanita Umno deputy chief.
Umno also won the Bukit Chandan and Manong state seats within the constituency.
Khair-il’s widow Mastura Mohd Yazid contested for BN in the by-election, winning with 12,653 votes from a turnout of 23,274. The remaining votes were almost evenly split between PAS and Amanah.
‘People think Mahathir cannot be trusted’
When contacted by FMT, Kuala Kangsar Umno Youth chief Mustafa Shah Abdul Hamid said people there accepted Prime Minister Najib Razak and his policies.
He said people could not accept Mahathir’s about-turn after quitting Umno in February 2016, as he had criticised DAP and PKR during his tenure as prime minister.
“Many people, especially those who lived under his rule (from 1981 to 2003), say he cannot be trusted. I have met even Chinese and Indians who reject him,” he said.
Mustafa said BN’s track record in bringing development to Kuala Kangsar was enough to see it win, adding that issues like 1MDB and the goods and services tax (GST) had no impact on locals.
Meanwhile, Kuala Kangsar PAS chief Khalil Idham said the Islamist party would put up a strong fight in the polls.
He said the party’s chances were especially good in the state seat of Manong, which it lost by a mere 231 votes in 2013.
“We are confident that a large number of Malay votes will go to PAS based on the current political scenario and issues in the country,” he said.