TAIPING: Barisan Nasional (BN) has never lost in the Perak state seat of Kamunting, and its two-term incumbent expects nothing to change in the May 9 polls.
Umno’s Mohammad Zahir Abdul Khalid added however that success might not come as easily as it did in the past, noting the slimmer margins of victory by which he had won in the past two elections.
Zahir, who is state Industry, Investment and Corridor Development Committee chairman, said he was banking on his track record and that of the Perak government for the past 10 years to win a third term.
“In the past 10 years, we have attracted RM2.5 billion in investments to Kamunting, creating over 4,000 jobs,” he said in an interview with FMT.
Zahir said he had also worked closely with Menteri Besar Zambry Abdul Kadir to develop the Greater Kamunting Master Plan which aims to create 90,000 jobs between 2013 and 2030.
“I believe we have enough voters who appreciate the state government’s efforts,” he said, adding that with the exception of 2014, Perak’s economy had grown at a higher rate than the national average.
BN’s track record aside, Zahir expects the coalition to benefit from the multi-cornered fight with Pakatan Harapan (PH) and PAS.
“PAS has 4,000 core supporters in Kamunting, which makes it a significant force,” he said.
He also said Umno could withstand the attacks on the party by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who now leads PH.
“People respect Mahathir, he is a big name in Malaysian politics. But I’ve noticed from my time on the ground that the more he attacks Umno, the more the Malays move towards Umno.
“I believe many Malays, more so those who are older, worry that if Umno is gone, then the stability which it has built will disappear too,” said Zahir, whose father Abdul Khalid Nasir also served as the Kamunting assemblyman in the 1980s.
Zahir said he believed it was mostly the younger Malays who never lived under Mahathir’s administration that were in awe of him.
Those in their 40s and 50s, however, were well aware of how Mahathir had ruled with an iron fist, while older Chinese voters would still find it hard to trust Malaysia’s longest serving prime minister, he said.
Zahir said he hoped BN’s plans to bring in more job opportunities and develop facilities for the youth in Kamunting, such as a stadium and motorcycle track, would help woo the younger voters.
Zahir first won the Kamunting seat in 2008, beating PAS’ Muhamad Apardi Sharri by a 555-vote majority. He retained the seat against PAS’ Mohamad Fakhrudin Abdul Aziz in 2013 with a 887-vote majority.
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