Wednesday, 3 July 2013
PAS to battle it alone as involvement of DAP, PKR could weaken party’s appeal
PETALING JAYA, July 3 — The Kuala Besut by-election is expected to be a ‘closed-door’ religious affair between Umno and PAS.
Due to the local sensitivities, PAS is now expected to battle it out alone as the involvement of DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat could weaken the party's appeal to the locals as it canvasses for votes.
Besut voters, who are considered religious and parochial are not expected to welcome DAP leaders and campaigners as several sensitive issues raised before the 13th general election have sparked verbal wars between them and PAS.
For Kuala Besut voters, religion is the core issue that matters while physical development plays second fiddle.
Besut has been the centre of Islamic development in the nation, where pondok or religious schools is part and parcel of the local identity.
Due to differences in Islamic opinions between PAS and Umno followers in the state, they have even gone to the extent of having separate surau and even prayed separately at one time in the 80s.
However, locals are quick to put aside their differences when defending the religion from outsiders and from non-Muslims.
They are possessive when it comes to Islam and whatever differences they may have in interpretations of the religion, the locals considered it as their own problems and no outsiders should interfere.
With such background, DAP is not and in this case, probably not welcome at all in the campaign and PAS, given that its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang considers Terengganu, particularly Besut his turf, will not want outside interferences.
In fact, Abdul Hadi, whose bastion is Rusila in Marang, some 100km away from Besut had given out his edict that purportedly described Umno as an infidel in a kampong in Besut in 1982.
Thus religion is expected to be the main issue PAS will play up in its campaign besides the factionism in Umno, taking advantage of the ‘cold war’ between Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said and Besut division chief who is now Education Minister 11 Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.
PAS is expected to exploit the ‘cold war’ issue to its benefit as the party tries to split Umno votes although observers say BN would still retain the seat.
Umno, which has always respected ulamak from Besut and Kedah, is expected to downplay religious issues and embark on more ‘down-to-earth’ bread and butter issues.
Economic development is expected to take centre stage in Umno’s campaign as one of the many issues that had Ahmad ‘in trouble’ with the locals and Besut Umno is cronyism which had sidelined development in Besut.
With Idris leading the charge under Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Muhyiddin Yassin, Ahmad is expected to take a back seat so voters will not be ‘slighted’ with his presence. -