Exclusive report by Suhainine Mohd Khalid
PONTIAN, Nov 8 -- The Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election campaign, which began on Nov 2, is entering its seventh day today, with the campaign heating up with the arrival of key party leaders.
A few days after the nomination, the campaign atmosphere in Tanjung Piai which is divided into the Pekan Nenas state assembly and the Kukup state seat seemed bleak, however, it began to get lively over the past few days with the flag ‘war’ between competing parties adding colour everywhere, plus the noise of vehicles equipped with loudspeakers persuading voters to vote for their candidates.
Candidates are looking forward to using the opportunity to meet as many voters as they can before the Nov 16 polls.
The favourable weather these days adds to the warmth in Tanjung Piai as candidates tend to take advantage by campaigning as early as 7 am, at the morning market or drinking coffee with the voters.
On the first day of the campaign, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) machinery had already received a boost by the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is also the Pakatan Harapan President, who happened to be attending the national level Buy Malaysian Products Carnival in Johor Bahru on that day.
But after nomination day, not many key leaders either from PH or Barisan Nasional (BN) attended the campaigning except for some Johor leaders such as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) deputy president Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub of PH, who were frequently in Tanjung Piai.
However, the situation has changed in recent days as more and more political leaders began campaigning such as Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, Bersatu women’s wing, Srikandi, chief Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun and Johor DAP chairman Liew Chin Tong who appeared to be clarifying government issues and policies to the people.
Also helping in the campaign was DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, who also also gave a ceramah in support of PH candidate, Karmaine Sardinian.
The BN also seems to have lined up its top leaders like its chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is also UMNO president, BN deputy chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, MCA president Dr Wee Ka Siong and MIC deputy president Datuk Seri M. Saravanan.
The presence of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang two nights ago stole the limelight, confirming that the party was in favour of MCA which was fielding Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, as the BN candidate.
For Gerakan, their campaign was strengthened by the presence of party president Datuk Dominic Lau to assist candidate Wendy Subramaniam, and the party launched its manifesto yesterday, outlining three key issues to ensure the well-being of the constituents.
Pan Malaysian Islamic Front's (Berjasa) candidate Datuk Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz was also seen to be actively campaigning although his focus was more on the Malay voters.
Meanwhile, independent candidate Dr Ang Chuan Lock, will focus on using social media, Facebook, to convey his message to the public while another independent candidate, Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar, who was roped in last minute to represent the All-Malaysia Taxi Coalition (GTSM) today appeared in Tanjung Piai after finishing the nomination process on Saturday.
A Tanjung Piai resident, Jamal Ahmad, 54, said the candidates’ received little response from voters and residents in the early-stage. This may be due to the premature campaigning.
The presence of PH chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, expected next week, would certainly warm up the campaign ahead of the polls next Saturday, he said.
According to the Kampung Serkat native, many voters in Tanjung Piai who are fence sitters are especially those aged 50 years and below.
The Tanjung Piai by-election is being held following the death of its member of parliament Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, on Sept 21 due to a heart attack.