Who will repesent Pengkalan Kubor ?
Polling for the Pengkalan Kubor by-election will begin today at 8am at 12 polling stations and 45 streams in the constituency, after two weeks of low-key campaigning by the three candidates.
Barisan Nasional (BN) is seeking to defend the seat left vacant after popular three-term assemblyman Datuk Noor Zahidi Omar died from cancer on August 20. The coalition has fielded “Ustaz” Mat Razi Mat Ail who is expected to carry on his predecessor’s legacy.
Although PKR has traditionally contested – and lost – the seat, it made way for PAS at the height of the Selangor menteri besar (MB) impasse.
The Islamist party is expected to have a better shot at winning with its candidate, Wan Rosdi Wan Ibrahim, given that Pengkalan Kubor is one of three state seats in the parliamentary constituency of Tumpat, which is a PAS stronghold.
Independent candidate Izat Bukhary Ismail Bukhary surprised observers when he quietly turned up on nomination day on September 13, but has since disappeared from the public eye. His presence is only seen in small signs by the roadside telling voters to vote for him with their pens – his symbol for the election.
PAS entered the campaign having strained ties with allies DAP and PKR over the Selangor menteri besar (MB) impasse, and it showed – the two parties have largely left PAS to its own device, in a departure from their usual cooperation during by-elections.
PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang also failed to attend the final, mammoth ceramah by Pakatan on Tuesday night, despite posters indicating they would be present.
PAS’s campaign was lacklustre because of the party’s annual muktamar, which saw most of the top leaders absent during the first week as they attended the 60th congress in Johor.
In contrast, Umno showcased its ministers and top leaders in the small border town, among them Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil.
Even MCA deputy president, Datuk Wee Ka Siong, turned up to woo the 1% Chinese voters in the area, while DAP leaders were nowhere to be seen throughout the two weeks of campaign.
State, national and afterlife affairs such as the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the oil royalty debate and heaven and hell have been at the forefront of the campaigns, while local concerns, and even the candidates themselves, have taken a back seat.
Mat Razi, 37, is a religious teacher and assistant officer at the Tumpat district office. He is also the imam of Masjid Kampung Simpangan and founder of a “pondok” or traditional Islamic school. The father of six is the Tumpat Umno division committee member and a graduate of History and Malay literature from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
PAS’s Wan Rosdi, 57, is a construction contractor and the Tumpat PAS secretary and Pengkalan Kubor constituency supervisor. The father of five graduated from the Institut Kemahiran Mara Sungai Petani in construction. His late wife, Saadiaj Salleh, was the former Tumpat PAS Muslimat chief before she died last year.
Izat Bukhary, 47, was a former architecture lecturer. He received his diploma in interior design from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and is a graduate from Manchester University. Unlike his contenders, he is not a local; he was born in Kota Baru and now lives in Kubang Kerian.
This will be the second time Izat Bukhary has contested – last year, he won 65 out of 24,097 votes. He told reporters on nomination day that these 65 voters had spurred him to take another shot, at the risk of losing his deposit for a second time.
The busiest polling centres today are expected to be at Sekolah Kebangsaan Getting (1) in Kampung Getting, which has 3,555 voters, followed by Sekolah Kebangsaan Pengkalan Kubor (2) with 3,198 voters, and Maktab Rendah Sains Mara Tumpat in Tujoh, with 2,836 voters.
For early voting on Sunday in Pengkalan Kubor, 96.3% out of 109 police personnel cast their votes at the district police station. Only four voters failed to vote as they were said to be outstation.
Mat Razi is expected to cast his ballot at 8.20am at Sekolah Simpangan, while Wan Rosdi will vote at 8am at Sekolah Kebangsaan Bendang Pak Yong. Izat Bukhary will not be voting as he is not a local.
The Election Commission is expected to announce the official results of the by-election latest by 9pm this evening.
On the campaign trail, BN capitalised on the infighting apparent in PAS following its annual muktamar, as banners were erected quoting PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s fiery closing speech, where he took aim at the two rogue Selangor PAS assemblymen.
But while BN was able to boast about the aid the federal government had given to Malaysians, it also had to fend off accusations of “betraying” the Kelantan folk by depriving them of oil royalty worth RM13 billion.
PAS, with the help of pro-royalty non-governmental organisation R, has hammered home the message that voters must rise up against the tyranny of BN, as it has neglected to provide them basic infrastructure such as roads and a barrier to protect them from the annual year-end monsoon floods.
It also used religion to remind voters to cast their ballots for the party that represents Islam, as their actions in the voting booths would have repercussions in the hereafter.
Malays make up 92% of the voters in Pengkalan Kubor while Chinese make up 1%. There are 0.1% Indian voters and 6.8% Siamese voters.
Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said he expects more than 70% of the 23,929 ordinary voters to cast their votes today.