MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



22 May 2024

Sunday, March 31, 2019


SITTING outside the DAP by-election office in Pekan Rantau, K. Balaraman waited wistfully as he puffed on his cheap cigarettes.
As a volunteer, his job is to take down complaints from the local residents.
But the 60-year-old perked up when he was asked about what he thought about the impending Rantau by-election.
“Hasan is a different man these days. His tone has gotten more racial since GE14,”   said the 60-year-old, referring to Umno candidate Mohamad Hasan.

In the clip, Mohamad or better known as Mat Hasan, was seen telling his members that racial politics have gotten worse since Umno lost the elections.
“They are openly challenging us now. They want to recognise ICERD (International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination) and they say we are the migrants.
“The Malays are from the Malay archipelago but they come from India and China. So, who are the migrants?” he asked as he talked about the rise of racial politics since GE14.
Balaraman told The Malaysian Insight that he was unhappy that Mohamad, as he is popularly known, was talking like that.
“He was a representative here for three terms and he shouldn’t talk like that,” said the former factory worker, who had voted for Mohamad before.
Mohamad was also the state’s menteri besar before Barisan Nasional was defeated in GE14.
But what irked Balaraman the most was not the racial rhetoric by the former MB, but the apparent politics in the allocation of affordable homes in Rantau through a project undertaken by the previous BN state government.
“When Mat Hasan was MB, he brought in a federal project to build low-cost houses in the area. But most of the people who got the houses were not from here,” said Balaraman, who said he was among those who didn’t get one.
BN leaders posing for photographs along with the coalition's candidate, Mohamad Hasan (centre), at the nomination centre in Sendayan, Negri Sembilan today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, March 30, 2019.
BN leaders posing for photographs along with the coalition’s candidate, Mohamad Hasan (centre), at the nomination centre in Sendayan, Negri Sembilan today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, March 30, 2019.
Local businessman Gan Li Peng said only 10% of Rantau residents got some of the 100 low-cost houses that were built by the federal government in the area.
“Most of the poor here are Indians, former estate workers who now work in factories. But they didn’t benefit from this project. Most of the houses went to people in Selangor, Malacca and elsewhere,” he said.
Gan said that while Rantau used to have rubber and oil palm plantations, most have been sold off to bigger companies like Sime Darby.
“The Indians here don’t work there anymore. They work in factories,” said the 65-year-old.
Rantau is sandwiched between the seaside town Port Dickson and the state capital of Seremban. From Mambau on the Seremban side, the 10km N7 trunk road runs through a hilly terrain marked by light factories that employ locals making bricks to soy sauce.
As the road comes to an end at the main town of Pekan Rantau, there are remnants of oil palm and rubber trees.
But like many small towns, the place is quiet during the day as most residents work in the factories located around Seremban and Sendayan.
Apart from the prominent Rantau police station that sits in the middle of town, the only connection to the world outside is a solitary bank branch and Malaysians’ favourite fast food, KFC. The other shops consists of provision shops, local eateries, workshops and a few clinics.
Rantau, which will begin the process of choosing a candidate today, has 14 voting stations comprising 54% Malays, 27% Indians and 19% Chinese.
The main contest is expected to be between Mohamad and PKR’s Dr S. Streram. Two independents – Malar Rajaram and Mohd Nor Yassin – have also joined in the fray.
In the last general election, Streram, an anaesthetist, was unfairly denied the opportunity to contest after he was stopped from filing his papers on nomination day.
It was his decision to take the matter to court, which led to the by-election on April 13.
While Streram is a first time candidate, Mohamad is a three-term Rantau assemblyman.
Pakatan leaders stumping for the coalition's candidate for the Rantau by-election, Dr. S. Streram (centre), at the nomination centre in Sendayan, Negri Sembilan today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, March 30, 2019.
Pakatan leaders stumping for the coalition’s candidate for the Rantau by-election, Dr. S. Streram (centre), at the nomination centre in Sendayan, Negri Sembilan today. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, March 30, 2019.
Race is a two-sided coin
As Balaraman complained about Mohamad’s racial rhetoric, 65-year-old Harun Ishak felt that racial politics has gotten worse since the change in government.
“People from the DAP-led government are beginning to question Malay rights,”   said the retired civil servant.
“Since taking over, they have cut BR1M, benefits to farmers, fishermen and others who are mainly Malay, and tried to introduce things like ICERD. On top of that, there are people openly criticising Islam on Facebook,” said Harun.
To Harun, the social media rants were a symptom of Umno’s loss of power.
Harun, who moved in and out of the Barisan Nasional operations centre located opposite the Rantau police station, said it was “the other side’s” fault.
“We must vote for Mat Hasan to stop this from getting worse,” said Harun.
As Rantau did not hold any contests in the last elections, there is no GE14 data to take from the seat.
As such data analysts are using statistics from the Parliament seat of Rembau. Rantau together with Paroi, Chembong and Kota make up Rembau, which was won by BN’s Khairy Jamaluddin.
According to Rembau’s GE14 data, in Rantau constituency, Pakatan obtained 8,210 (48.06%) votes compared to BN’s 7,798 45.65%) and PAS’ 777 votes (4.55%). The difference was 412 votes in favour of Pakatan.
After factoring a PAS-BN tie-up, BN would win by 365 votes.
Of the 14 voting stations (PDM), five are Malay super majority stations (above 70%), four simple Malay majority stations (50%-70%), while the rest are mixed.
BN won seven and lost all the five mixed PDMs.
The voting pattern showed a rejection of BN along racial lines.
Going by the sentiments in Pekan Rantau ahead of the by-election, that trend is expected to remain.
the malaysian insight

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