PETALING JAYA: Four days after the official election campaign began, Johor PKR chief Hassan Karim said he is overwhelmed by the voters response in the Pasir Gudang parliamentary seat.
“Public attendance at our ceramahs is very encouraging,” he said, adding they also contributed generously to fund election expenses.
The 67-year-old lawyer said this time around, the mood among the Malays was also different.
“In small meetings in kampungs and in housing estates, they listen attentively to our explanations,” Hassan told FMT in a telephone interview.
In previous elections, he said opposition candidates and campaign workers would be stopped from entering traditional Malay villages to put up posters and flags or even to distribute flyers on their manifesto.
Hassan is taking on Johor Menteri Besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who is the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate in a four-cornered fight.
The other contestants are Ab Aziz Abdullah of PAS and former Johor Bahru DAP chairman Chee Jock, who is standing as an independent.
In the last election, BN won the seat through Normala Abdul Samad by a 935-vote majority.
The Pasir Gudang parliamentary constituency has 122,649 voters, with Malays making up 50%, Chinese 37%, Indians 11% and others 2%.
Hassan, who has contested in general elections since 1982 under the Parti Rakyat Malaysia banner, was reluctant to make a forecast on the outcome.
“I am the underdog as one cannot underestimate Khaled’s influence and the strength of the other candidates,” he said.
“In politics, even a day before polling can make a difference,” he added.
Khaled is also defending his Permas state seat, which is one of the two state seats under Pasir Gudang.
In 2013, Khaled won Permas with a large majority of 5,752 votes.
The other state seat, Johor Jaya, was won by Liow Cai Tung of DAP by 1,460 votes.