MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Thursday, October 31, 2013

'Sg Limau fisherfolk got nothing from PAS gov't'

SG LIMAU Fisherman Ewe Chan Huat, 56, sat on the jetty, all alone and looking forlornly at the calm sea as the tides flapped at the Pulau Bunting beach, 2km away. His only thought: will the catch tomorrow be better than today's?

"There was no fish today... these days, the catch is not good, it is just the season," Ewe said when approached for an interview at Kampung Kuala Sedaka in Sungai Limau Dalam yesterday.

"Still, we go out to sea everyday. At times, as early as 4am, even as late as 8am or 9am. Whatever it is, our customers still wait for us. They'll telephone and ask us when we're coming back with the catch," Ewe added.

NONEFor fishermen like Ewe (right), the daily earnings can go as low as RM30 to RM40 or, on a good day, as much as RM300. And like the weather, his daily income can never be certain.

Yet, there is no other work that he prefers to do, other than being a fisherman, as he's been for the last 10 years.

"Just like my father and his father before him," said the father of four, whose children are adults working in Alor Setar and in Kuala Lumpur.

Like all the other fisherfolk, Ewe is not oblivious to the flurry of activities in Sungai Limau since Oct 23, when BN and PAS nominated their candidates for the rural Kedah state seat by-election.

BN's Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim, 52, is facing Mohd Azam Samat, 37, of PAS in a direct fight for Sungai Limau, which fell vacant when its former assemblyperson and ex-Kedah MB Azizan Abdul Razak died on Sept 26.

BN promises a market, and an artificial reef

In a bid to secure their votes yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin announced the approval to build a fishermen's market and a RM2.5 million allocation for an artificial reef project. 

NONEAlso, Muhyiddin (left in photo) promised, RM500,000 would be allocated to upgrade the Jeti Kuala Dulang Kecil.

Such incentives will also benefit the fisherfolk in Dulang Besar, Sungai Daun, Kampung Selengkoh and Sungai Kering, areas that which PAS has described as "keras" in its battle.

In other words, these are areas where PAS will most likely thread cautiously, or not at all, as the majority of the BN supporters are found there.

"We've been getting incentives from the BN government, like boat licences, tongs and fishing equipment, even when we do not ask," said Ewe, who can be easily mistaken for a Malay because of his fluency in the language as it is spoken locally.

"These are fully sponsored. So when they (BN leaders) say something, we will listen to them. It is only right," he added.

"When PAS took over (the state in 2008), there was nothing we could do. But we will continue to vote BN because we want to live well," Ewe stressed.

PAS never provided any aid during its rule

Asked if the fisherfolk like himself were given any aid by the Kedah government when PAS ruled the state, Ewe replied in the negative.

"Whatever we asked for we did not get," he said, adding that it was not really a big deal.

NONE"As long as our lives were not disturbed, it is okay. We also do not want to bother them. We just want to cari makan peacefully," he added.

However, Ewe asked the media to highlight one nagging problem faced by his community.

"It will really be helpful to us if the government can consider helping us obtain better and faster engines so that we can take our boats out to sea and work faster," he said.

Former state councillor for agriculture Amiruddin Hamzah admitted that the state when ruled by PAS did not provide any financial aid to the fishing community.

"Whatever aid that was given to the fishermen was from the Fisheries Department under the federal government," Amiruddin said in an interview late last night.

"Whatever he (Ewe) and the other fishermen are getting now is also not from the state government that is currently under BN," he added.

Asked if the federal government had witheld any form of aid to the fishermen when Kedah was under PAS rule, Amiruddin said "no".

"I do not think so, but we do understand the mentality of most fishermen... they are staunch supporters of BN," he explained.

"Most fishing communities in the country cannot be penetrated by Pakatan Rakyat because of the many subsidies provided to them." 

"The fishing community and the Felda settlers are indeed BN's safe deposits," Amiruddin, the Anak Bukit assemblyperson who is an engineer by profession, added.

"If their numbers are large, the by-election results will be affected. But it remains to be seen if this is the case."

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