PAS CONFIDENT IN TERENGGANU
The dynamics in Terengganu differ from Kelantan as it is a swing state that has switched several times between PAS and Barisan Nasional in the past few years.
In the 2018 state elections, PAS won 22 seats while BN won 10 seats.
PN election director Ariffin Deraman is optimistic about their chances to hold on to the state following their big win during the 15th general election.
“We won all eight seats with big majorities, from 16,000 votes to 41,000 in Marang. This is a very big number, never achieved in our history…Until now, there is no sign of a decline in momentum. In fact it is better,” he told CNA.
He said that the “green wave” seen during the last election will continue because of the unity government’s weaknesses and the fact that BN is working with PH.
“We don’t deny UMNO’s strength but when they are working with PH, people won’t support them. Maybe the partnership will work elsewhere, but not in Terengganu,” he said.
After the last general election resulted in a hung parliament, BN became part of the unity government, together with PH, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Parti Warisan.
Restaurant worker Wan Zihan, 54, who is from Setiu, has previously voted for BN, but has decided not to this time around because its president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is working with PH and Malaysia’s prime minister Anwar Ibrahim.
“Many UMNO people that I know of are switching their votes to PN. I can vote for UMNO when Zahid is no longer the leader,” he said.
UMNO, the mainstay of Barisan Nasional, will be leading the charge against PAS in both states.
It will be working together with unity government partners Pakatan Harapan (PH), which does not have much support in the east coast.
The opposition is framing its messaging in the state elections by saying there is a need for both the federal and state to be aligned to facilitate more economic development.
UMNO Kelantan communication chief Zawawi Othman told CNA that the state had lagged in terms of development because of PAS’ 33-year rule, with youngsters migrating to other states because of a lack of jobs.
“The people need to realise that there is a need for the state to be aligned with the federal government for progress and development. There is a need for investors to come into the state and create more industries,” he said, adding that PAS could not solve the water woes in the state.
Kelantan PH chairman Muhammad Hussain acknowledged that they would have a huge challenge to defeat PAS, although there could be a new wave of support because of the cooperation between BN and PH.
“It will be a big challenge for PN and they won’t win easily. There is a chance (for us) to add on to the eight seats UMNO won last time,” the former PAS lawmaker told CNA.
He also claimed that the 15th general election could not be used as a yardstick for how the upcoming elections would unfold.
There is expected to be a closer contest in Terengganu, with the state’s UMNO chairman Ahmad Said optimistic that they can win.
“PAS didn’t win (in 2018) because of their strength but because of internal problems in UMNO.
“Terengganu is fragile politically and whatever happens at the federal level will have a big impact on the elections,” said Mr Ahmad Said who is former chief minister of the state.
He pointed out that UMNO lost badly in 1999, winning only four seats but then managed to win the next three elections in 2004, 2008, and 2013 before the state fell back to PAS’ hands in 2018.
“Although there were big issues, we still managed to defend 10 seats (in 2018). Even then, there were mistakes with the choice of candidates. And we lost some seats by marginal majorities. That’s why we are confident of wresting back Terengganu,” he said, claiming that BN has a good track record in the state.