PONTIAN, Nov 15 — With only a few more hours left before the people of Tanjung Piai go to the polls, campaign by candidates continue to gain momentum right to the last moment.
On the 14th and last day of campaign, various issues were still being brought up by the six contesting candidates but the cost of living seemed to be dominating talks in the coffee shops and stalls or even by the five-foot way in virtually all corners of the parliamentary constituency.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) as the government has been on the defensive especially in attacks by Barisan Nasional (BN) on various issues, but PH machinery and leaders campaigning on the ground were consistent and clear in explaining the issues.
After running the administration for only 18 months, the government should not be assessed on what was not done but rather on what it has carried out and many more in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, PH deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is Bersatu president said on the overall, the campaign to penetrate black or grey voting district centres was more effective this time around compared to the 14th general election (GE14).
This was evident during house-to-house visits and group ceramah with voters from various races and religions.
He said residents were advised to come out to vote while young voters are urged to come back to exercise their right in the by-election.
Bersatu secretary-general Senator Datuk Marzuki Yahya said PH was very consistent throughout the campaign with various programmes to reach out to voters in Tanjung Piai.
Another PH leader, Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub who is Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) deputy president said the house-to-house approach was still needed for voters with family members to explain the importance of choosing the PH candidate.
“I am confident of the growing support obtained by PH as the campaign comes to an end,” he said.
Norma Mohamed, mother of the Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, who died on Sept 21 said the strength of PH candidate will determine the choice of Tanjung Piai voters to continue the legacy and continuity left behind by her son.
She said since the start of the campaign, the PH candidate had focused on the plans started by her late son such as infrastructure development which was the core issue of party leadership in the by-election.
Nonetheless, the campaign was marred by racial sentiments played up by the opposition in the effort to capture votes at the last minute.
Apart from that, the performance of PH in the past 18 months was also attacked by some quarters for failing to meet the promises made in GE14.
However, the wisdom of PH government leaders in going to the ground has clear up the issues somewhat.
For Amanah president, Mohamad Sabu, it was unfair to evaluate PH based on 18 months when the government has the mandate for five years.
“It is true the people are angry...in fact as a minister, I am also upset that we have to spend so much time correcting and undoing the malpractices of the previous government. In the Cabinet, we do discuss fulfilling promises in our manifesto,” he said.
But the PH candidate, Karmaine Sardini with his amiable approach has help to ease the hard issues with his personal touch when meeting the people, he added.
This time, BN is fielding former two-term Tanjung Piai MP, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng who was defeated by Dr Md Farid in GE14 with a 524-vote majority.
Another candidate is Wendy Subramaniam who is representing Gerakan, which is contesting on its own to gauge the party’s capability after leaving BN, could prove to be a vote spoiler.
The campaign of Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia (Berjasa) candidate, Datuk Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, is devoted to issues of fishermen as well as the local community infrastructure.
The two independent candidates, Dr Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar who were slow in their campaign due to a lack of team support completed the six-cornered fight in the by-election. — Bernama