As Tanjung Piai poll nears, Pakatan warns of rising race rhetoric

Pakatan Harapan is expected to face a tough battle in in Tanjung Piai, a highly mixed parliamentary seat in Johor won by Bersatu's Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik in last year's general election. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Pakatan Harapan is expected to face a tough battle in in Tanjung Piai, a highly mixed parliamentary seat in Johor won by Bersatu's Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik in last year's general election. — Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 ― The Pakatan Harapan (PH) secretariat said today it expected a spike in racial incitment in the build-up to the November 16 Tanjung Piai by-election, a strategy meant to divert attention from government efforts to rectify the economy.

It claimed in a statement that “certain quarters” are already attempting to stoke racial tension amid preparation for Budget 2020, in a bid to foster resentment against the government's inclusive spending plans.

“As the PH government was preparing Budget 2020 certain quarters had already tried to disrupt ethnic harmony.

“This malicious attempt is nothing but an attempt to divert attention from more important things, like fixing the economy and elevating standards of living,” it added.

“This race baiting have become more prevalent in the run up to the Tanjung Piai by-election.”

PH is expected to face a tough battle in in Tanjung Piai, a highly mixed parliamentary seat in Johor won by Bersatu's Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik in last year's general election.

Dr Md Farid, who died of heart complications on September 21, wrested the seat by a razor-thin margin of just 524 majority votes to defeat MCA's Wee Jeck Seng, a win analysts said was aided by PAS's decision to contest.

The Islamist's Nordin Othman, who secured 2,962 votes, was seen as the vote splitter that thwarted BN's defence bid of the semi-urban seat.

That could change come November 16 now that BN and PAS are allies. The two forged ties in September in a political cooperation meant tol solidify the conservative Malay Muslim vote into a single bloc.

PH leaders have conceded that the BN-PAS alliance poses a real threat. But today, the coalition said it trusted voters would reject race-based and “hateful” politics.

“Though we admit that Tanjung Piai will be tough, we remain faithful that the people will see a choice in a better Malaysia as opposed to one built on the politics of hate,” the statement read.

Tanjung Piai has a total of 52,986 voters, of which 280 are early voters.

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