The nomination of competing candidates for the Manek Urai Bye-Election, Kelantan, safely tucked away and nicely completed on 6th July, 2009, will now pave the way for intense campaigns. Two candidates Mohd Fauzi Abdullah (PR-PAS) and Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat(BN-UMNO) will now vie for the N41 Manek Urai, seat of Dewan Undangan Negeri, Kelantan scheduled for polling on July 14. Mohd Fauzi also goes with the catchy local nickname of Abe Uji.
What's at stake for this bye-election? Not the State of Kelantan now under PAS with Tok Guru Nik Aziz as the Ketua Menterifor the last umpteen years. On the national perspective, there has been the contoversy of the Unity Talks which more or less has been buried but for UMNO leaders who seem frantically resuscitating it. On the ground it appears it's largely a "nasi and sambal" (bread and butter) issue.
Lata Rek Waterfall, Manek Urai/ Kuala Krai
Pix Credits |Waterfalls of Malaysia
Manek Urai has a population of some 30,000 and almost all are Malays with perhaps some 100 Chinese and a few Indians and others. The average income of rubber tappers in the area is RM850 and it appears to be the only major source. Of the total 12,293 registered voters in the consituency, 5,598 are youths under 40 years of age. Apart from perhaps a little local tourism at Lata Rek Waterfalls, there's little reports of other economic activity in the area.
The seat was held by UMNO in 2004, whose ADUN had 53 votes majority. Thereafter it went to PAS to Ismail Yaacop who won it in 2008 with a wide margin of 1,353 votes. He had passed away recently prompting this bye-election. If the 2008 victory is an indicator it could have been the youths who tipped the down the dacing. Then, the cry of reformasi and change were loud and clear and if the tipping over was so caused, what will keep the seat for PAS?
Prime Minister Najib had twice dismissed a debate with Tok Guru Nik Aziz. This spectre has been result of the furious condemnation amongst both PAS and UMNO youth members over the Unity Talks and had recriminations tore across the divide of BN and PR and flogged the internet bandwith. UMNO is grappling for unity of some sort from among the BN coalition partners which had been reeling from the various corruption charges and the hotly disputed takeover of Perak. It seems strange though that UMNO is looking from its long maligned rival PAS for the vigor. The immidiate fallout of this seems to be the absence of PAS' Deputy President, Nasharuddin Mat Isa a proponent of the Unity Talks, from the bye-election campaign scenes. Observers note that even the Party President posters are not out yet and claimed to be only hoisted outside the town areas.
So it might really appear that "nasi and sambal"(bread & butter), though important to PAS voters, isn't the staple food of the campaign feast. The pervasive indiscernable present economic climate suggests they might opt for spiritual boom and just bite the bullet in the economic gloom.
Manek Urai, the location