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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Galas: Oil royalty the central issue, not personalities


KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) - The Barisan Nasional top leadership’s decision to pick veteran leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah as its election director for the upcoming Galas by-election has been received well by component parties and political analysts.

They believe that the Gua Musang MP’s strong personality would be the key factor that could help Barisan recapture the Galas state seat, as well as his proven track record and strong influence there.

Political analyst from Universiti Sains Malaysia Dr P. Sivamurugan said in order to win back the support for Barisan in Galas, the three factions in Umno Kelantan must give their support to Tengku Razaleigh.

“They’ve got to use the Manik Urai strategy, that is, only one team,” he said when contacted.

Sivamurugan said although Tengku Razaleigh enjoyed strong support from his party in Gua Musang, he still needed the support of state Umno leaders such as state Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, its former chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa and current deputy chairman Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussein to back him as election director.

“If these people don’t really support him, then it will be difficult for Tengku Razaleigh even if he’s an icon in the area,” he said.

The Galas seat fell vacant with the death of assemblyman Chek Hashim Sulaima, 46, of PAS on Monday.

In the 2008 general election, he garnered 4,399 votes, defeating Mohamad Saufi Deraman of Barisan by a 646-vote majority.

Apart from choosing Tengku Razaleigh as election director, the Barisan leadership also said that they would pick a local candidate to contest the seat.

“In the last general election, the turnout for this seat was quite high, about 80% as both sides had put up strong local candidates. However, the only problem faced by Barisan then was its declining support among the non-Malays,” said Sivamurugan.

In fact, he said, Barisan’s failure to retain the seat in 2008; the first time they lost it, was attributed to the drop in support from Chinese voters as the Malay votes were equally divided between the two parties.

According to the last electoral roll, there are 10,330 voters in the constituency, with 65.4% Malays, 22.3% Chinese, 10.5% Orang Asli and 1.8% Indians.

Most of the Chinese live in Gua Musang town.

“The Chinese will somehow influence this by-election. Therefore, Barisan’s strategy should focus on how they had won the Bagan Pinang by-election, that is, the candidate factor rather than the party,” he said.

However, Kelantan Gerakan chairman Datuk Ng Chiang Chin said the drop in Chinese support for Barisan in the constituency could not be blamed for the outcome.

“In the last general election, things were chaotic. That was why we saw a drop in Chinese support. However, in this by-election, with more organised and better prepared machinery, we will have a good fighting chance,” he said.

Despite Tengku Razaleigh being the director of election, it will still be a tough race for Barisan due to several issues.

As pointed out by Sivamurugan, the major issue is the oil royalty for the state.

“PAS is likely to highlight how Tengku Razaleigh has supported the state government in its demand for oil royalty.

“That is why in this by-election, we will likely see a personality clash between Tengku Razaleigh and Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat ,” he said. Bernama

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