KUBANG PASU: Despite a large weekend crowd at the village market of Asun in Jitra here, cloth trader Mohd Nasrunizam Mohd Nasir says he will not necessarily enjoy a good business day.
“The goods and services tax (GST) has made things really hard, even for my business,” he said.
“It is difficult to earn a profit. I want to raise the price, but I cannot because people here do not earn much,” he told FMT when met on Saturday.
“If I do business in town, I can earn a bit more. In the villages, it is different. Many here are self-employed or rubber tappers. Their income is not fixed,” the 29-year-old added.
Nasrunizam, a voter in the state seat of Ayer Hitam within the Jerlun parliamentary constituency, said he could earn about RM200 working for half a day at the market before he went to Perlis to try his luck there.
Saddled with high costs and tough earning opportunities, he said he was hoping for a Pakatan Harapan (PH) victory in the 14th general election (GE14).
“I see in my area that many have shifted their support to Mukhriz Mahathir,” he said, referring to the PH candidate for Jerlun and former Kedah menteri besar.
“Even the Siamese community has switched allegiance. They do not support Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) much anymore.”
Adaham Ahmad and Zainol Ariffin, who live in Ayer Hitam, also said the rising cost of living was a major concern and that GST should be abolished.
They claimed that Kedah Menteri Besar Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah did not seem to help the common people there and only helped those close to him.
Mukhriz, on the other hand, was visible in the area, helping constituents who comprised mostly farmers and fishermen, they added.
“Can Mukhriz win in Jerlun? I think he can, provided the Election Commission does not play dirty,” said Adaham, 50.
“If possible, I want not just Mukhriz to win, but the whole of Kedah to fall to the opposition. Why? Because BN has not been helping us,” he added.
Zainol, 47, said the influence of Mukhriz, as well as his father Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is PH chairman and former prime minister, was still palpable.
“You see wherever Mahathir goes, many people show up to listen to his ceramah. Even if it rains, people will be there. He does not need to bus in people.
“(Prime Minister) Najib Razak, on the other hand, will have busloads of people brought in for his functions,” he claimed.
‘Why do we need to save Malaysia?’
Further south in Jerai, two voters in their 50s interviewed by FMT said they were happy with BN’s incumbent for the parliamentary constituency, Jamil Khir Baharom.
A taxi driver who wished to be known as Azman said Jamil had done much for taxi drivers and brought development to the area.
“Also, during the Raya festivities he will always extend assistance to NGOs,” he added.
The Jerai voter said he would continue to opt for BN as he saw no reason for change.
“Of course I will vote in the same person as before. Why the need for change? All of us, Malays, Chinese and Indians, live in peace and harmony,” he said.
“I am not part of any political party. PH has called for change in the government. But for what? Why do we need to save Malaysia?
“Furthermore, everyone in the country is able to practise their faiths without any hindrance,” he added.
Azman said he did not feel the pinch from rising costs, adding that it was something one had to go through.
“We can cari makan (make a living). We have peace of mind. There is no war.”
As for rice farmer Ismail Yahya, in his 50s, life in Jerai was good and he had been receiving aid from the government.
“The rising cost of living is not an issue to me. In the village we do not spend much. Those who will really feel the pinch are the traders,” he said.
“For me, I only use a motorcycle to get around. Fuel will cost me about RM5,” he said when met at a tea stall in Guar Chempedak.
As someone who tended to padi fields, he received steady government assistance like fertilisers, he said.
He added that he was unsure if there was a need for a change in government.
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