PERMATANG PAUH: ‘GET THE TASTE’, that is Barisan Nasional’s (BN) catchword to woo voters in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election campaign, which officially kicked-off Saturday.
A day after nominations on Friday, BN and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) had lined-up not less than 10 events daily to fight for their cause.
Going into the fray as underdogs, BN, has coined a phrase, which they believe can persuade voters to open up to the coalition’s manifesto.
‘GET THE TASTE’ implores the voters in Permatang Pauh to try out BN for the next three years until the coming General Election.
According to BN Member of Parliament for Kepala Batas Datuk Seri Reezal Merican, the catchword is for voters to “try out BN’s representation for the next three years, make comparisons to the last 23 years and then think who to vote for in the next general election.”
BN goes in with confidence of winning amidst prediction by analysts and observers that PKR’s Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail may hold-on to the seat for her husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is in jail for sodomy.
Issues are aplenty for both sides of the political divide throughout the duration of the campaign that will last until May 6.
Since Friday, both sides have begun to up their ante and rushing to introduce their candidates to the 71, 890 voters in the 100 sq kilometres Permatang Pauh Parliamentary Constituency
Goods and Services Tax (GST) seems to be the number one issue with PKR, aided by its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners DAP and PAS.
They are bolstering the made issue with contentions about the lot of the government-owned strategic development company, 1MDB and allegations of mismanagement and corruption.
The voter make-up in Permatang Pauh comprises sub-urban voters, 70 percent Malays, 20 percent Chinese, Indians five percent and others five percent.
On the surface folks seem contented with the festival-like campaign style of both sides of the political divide as they play along with campaigners and speakers in their train of events.
They are even throwing in feasts, high-teas and nightly ceramah to sway the voters to their cause.
For BN, righting issues is a must, and that’s the way Reezal is going about things.
“Of course, we have to defend ourselves from all issues PKR raised, like GST and other non-issues that the opposition created.
“But our thrust is on development – the daily bread and butter issues of the people, which we have specifically put forward – taste first la.
“Give us a chance to prove ourselves, just three years and then review in the next general election,” he said.
Admittedly, Reezal said, as the underdog, BN knows where it stands in the area and how to play its role in the campaign trail.
“We are humble and we beg – we want voters to know we want to serve for their good and for them to share the benefits of the country’s economy,” he added.
Reezal’s mind is shared by Wanita Umno chief Datuk Sharizat Abdul Jalil, who said that ‘time stopped in Permatang Pauh in 1999 when Wan Azizah contested to replace her husband where development ceased.’
Meanwhile, PKR is working the ground with confidence, too. They are convinced that Wan Azizah would retain the seat with higher majority, given the changed political landscape.
They maintain that it will not alter voters’ loyalty.
PKR vice-president Shamsul Iskandar said he was confident Wan Azizah who carries Anwar’s image, would touch the hearts and minds of voters, regardless of age and race.
Meanwhile, between the confidence of both sides of the political divide, PAS has yet to go on full campaign, as its sour relationship with DAP and PKR over Hudud has yet to settle down despite assurances by leaders in the opposition pact that they had agreed to disagree on the matter.