PAS not automatic choice of Sungai Bakap voters


PAS is the incumbent party in the Sungai Bakap election. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 15, 2024.

ISLAMIST party PAS may not be the automatic choice for voters in the July 6 Sungai Bakap by-election even though it is the incumbent, voters said.

They told The Malaysian Insight what was needed was an elected representative who was not only outspoken but responsive to the needs of the constituents. They said they will only make up their mind who to support after studying the list of candidates.

Nomination day is June 22. The Sungai Bakap state seat in Penang fell vacant following the death of its incumbent Nor Zamri Latiff, 56, on May 24.

Zamri, who was Nibong Tebal PAS chief, won the seat in the state elections last August, defeating Pakatan Harapan candidate Nurhidayah Che Rose by 1,563 votes.

PH has picked retired academic Joohari Ariffin as its candidate for the by-election. The 60-year-old used to teach in Nibong Tebal and was active in many social and charitable activities.

PN is expected to name its candidate on today. PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin said the candidate will be from PAS.

Lorry driver Hamzah Nordin said the incoming assemblyman must not only voice matters in the assembly and on social media, but also handle local issues, which at times may be trivial to outsiders. His wish list includes a futsal court for youths so they have a platform to play indoor football.

Other parts of Nibong Tebal have futsal arenas but not Sungai Bakap.

“I do not have many wishes. Things are pretty average and normal here,” Hamzah said.

He said many local workers have found employment in other parts of Penang while there is an industrial park in nearby Sungai Baong, which offers convenience to the community, who prefer to work near where they stay.

On claims of acute water supply shortage, Hamzah said it was not prevailing.

“It is actually those staying near the Kedah boundary who face a shortage but within Sungai Bakap, we are getting a steady supply now.

“The occasional disruption is perhaps twice a week and it is from 5pm to 7pm mostly,” said Hamzah.

Local voter Osman Rawa said like many others, residents here were concerned with daily issues, including flash floods. He said former assemblyman Zamri was known in the community.

“We knew him as a local. We are not sure whether voters will continue to support his party (PAS). Both PH and Perikatan Nasional (PN) have support here,” he said.

The latest voter registration showed there are 39,279 voters in the constituency, 39,222 of whom are regular voters and 57 are police personnel.

In the election last August, Malays made up 59.36% of the voters, Chinese (22.54%), Indians (17.39%), and other ethnicities (0.71%).

Inflation

Trader Lim Ah Huan said that any party which can contain the rising cost of living will get the vote of the constituents as there is concern over their purchasing power.

“We either need a way to reduce costs or increase our earning capacity so we can cope with living costs issues.”

Lim suggested the government try to reduce the number of players in the supply chain to bring down the costs in logistics, so the pricing of goods can also be reduced.

Political observer Rahmad Isahak meanwhile said that the reduction in diesel subsidy may prompt protest voters to go to PN.

“There are not many localised issues in Sungai Bakap but there is concern that the reduction in fuel prices may trigger a cascading effect on the living costs issue.”

Rahmad also said voters were now sophisticated and they would want to have genuine leaders, not those who preach one thing but act the opposite.

Penang seems to be faring well on paper but in reality, the people are overwhelmed with rising living costs, constant congestion and low wages, he said.

To make matters worse, there is a surge of foreign workers, and the local community is unsure if they are legalised or illegal migrant workers, said Rahmad.

Kampung Sungai Duri resident Ismail Othman believed that PAS had the edge as the incumbent, as the state election was just some eight months ago.

“I do not think the sentiment of the electorate has changed in such a short time.”

The villagers just want those elected to do their job well, he said.

Indian party Urimai said estate workers in Sungai Kecil will demand a proper residential settlement for them first before supporting the PH candidate.

Urimai chairman P. Ramasamy said that the 23 families from the estate, which is located in Sungai Bakap, are left without permanent homes after the state government acquired the land for a low-cost housing project about three years ago.

“The 23 families were promised that they would get free low-cost terrace housing. If the housing project is successfully completed, it would have about 100 low-cost terrace houses.

“It was further promised that former workers will be given a discount or even free housing provided that they can prove that they were the former workers.

“It was also promised that former Indian estate workers in the vicinity without access to housing will be located here.

“Now, these people want the Penang state government to ensure that the low-cost housing project would be turned into an Indian settlement,” he said.

He added that any attempts to turn the Sungai Kecil housing project into a high-rise commercially oriented project should be resisted. – June 14, 2024.


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