PERJUANGAN YANG BARU BERMULA

UMNO leadership series: Kuantan

The UMNO Malays are elated to hear that Kuantan parliamentary seat will be given back to UMNO. Hooray for that. It is an open secret that at the 12th GE, the MCA incumbent, failed because Malay voters rejected him. The Chinese voters were not backing him fully either. They have their own domestic tsunami.

But I fear, their elation is a hollow one. Who in UMNO Kuantan can be offered as a serious candidate to win from Fauziah Salleh? Fuziah is the PKR MP. She is the second opposition figure to represent Kuantan area. In the 60s, two PSRM ADUNs represented Kuantan. What I am saying is, Kuantan has a tradition to go against the tide. Or go against the wind. Because Kuantan people are also pragmatic, they know a kite ascends highest when going against the wind, no along it. Having Fauziah Salleh as Kuantan’s current MP places Kuantan in the high profile league. It has also elevated Fauziah on a personal level. She is the PKR’s national elections director.

UMNO Kuantan’s chief, Wan Adnan was once an UMNO MP representing BN. His only memorable speech in Parliament was the one he made about his daughter being reprimanded in school for not wearing tudung. Presently, his lacking and shortcomings are fortunately shielded behind his position as EXCO. When he spoke about that issue in Parliament, my MCA ADUN friends had a field day, mocking me about the quality of my party’s candidate. Hoi, lu punya orang, ini macam punya cakap kah. Baik cakap pasal dia punya isteri isteri maa.

In 2008 elections, Wan Adnan stood as an ADUN for Tanjung Lumpur replacing my friend DR. Nasarudin who had to exit because of health reasons. Wan Adnan won by a whisker. Now I hear if he stands again in Tanjung Lumpur, he will be kicked out. Generally speaking, people in his constituency are fed up with this absentee ADUN. He is never around. He can’t speak, he is never around, he can’t work. What do you have here? A recipe for disaster.

UMNO must not misread the political temperature of the times. Nowadays, Malay voters are selective. They want a credible candidate who can articulate their aspirations fearlessly. They also want a quality candidate. Unfortunately, Wan Adnan fails in all respects. No disrespect to him, but here we have an ADUN, a former MP who can’t even string a good sentence.

UMNO people are joking that Wan Adnan share similar facial expressions as that bungling fool of an UMNO Minister, Noh Omar. The facial expressions of people suffering from Down syndrome. This is a very malicious characterization but UMNO leadership can’t ignore this. I must hasten to say, I have no ill feelings towards Down Syndrome sufferers. They deserve all the care in their proper setting.

UMNO people want personality too. You can’t have this kind of candidate be the face of UMNO. UMNO will also face a similar dilemma if it fields a candidate like Mustafa Long, the MB’s special officer in Kuala Lipis. Sorry Mus, but this what the people are saying. No hunchback of Notre Dame please.

UMNO can never hope to capture Kuantan, if Wan Adnan becomes the candidate. It is also an open secret that he became an EXCO because he has strong relations with more traditional sources of power. He wasn’t selected on account of his intrinsic abilities. If the MB has a choice, he wouldn’t touch Wan Adnan with a 10 foot pole.

The truth of the matter is UMNO Kuantan hasn’t got any leadership material to offer as a credible candidate to stand against Fauziah Salleh. What has UMNO Kuantan under the leadership of Wan Adnan done to balance what Fauziah Salleh has been doing? It hasn’t done anything of merit.

Each week or monthly, on a regular basis Fauziah Salleh’s election machinery is distributing rice bags to people around Kuantan. UMNO people are busy looking for contracts and arranging karaoke sessions. The diminutive Naib Ketua Bahagian, Shafik Fauzan is busy warding off attacks from supporters of Wan Adnan and Hamid Mandela. And Fauziah Salleh touches base with the intellectual side of her voters through her blog while the UMNO leadership rely on the old ways. Wan Adnan says he doesn’t do blogs, only his wife does.

The deputy head of Kuantan UMNO division is Hamid Nazahar or more popularly known as Hamid Mandela. He resembles Mandela in skin color only and that’s where the similarities end. He is the political secretary to the Home Minister, Hishamudin Hussein. He was probably appointed polsec because of his perceived abilities to mingle with the grassroots of UMNO operatives. You know the kind- little education, short in substance and long in form, hail hearty well met fellow. Good for arranging karaoke and talk cock sessions but nothing beyond these. If Hamid Mandela were to be chosen as UMNO candidate in Kuantan, UMNO would have wished it didn’t want Kuantan in the first place.

The candidate chosen by UMNO to represent Kuantan must reflect the general desire of today’s voting public to have a candidate with sound credentials. Good education, articulate and fearless and hard worker. They demand a serious, determined and driven leader.

UMNO just hasn’t got the luxury to offer passable candidates.

The general rule now is, whenever the Chinese form 60% of the electorate, BN will lose that seat. All the opposition needs to do is to secure 80% of Chinese votes and just 30% of the balance. That would give them 60% of the total votes in that area. If they secure 70% of Chinese votes, the opposition can still get though. Of course if the opposition gets more than 30% of Malay votes, the situation will tilt favorably more to the opposition.

Kuantan is the capital city of Pahang. It was said to be founded in the early 18th century by Malays from Sumatra. They settled in an area now still known as Teruntum. Historically Kuantan has always been a Malay majority area. Its parliamentary seat has been helmed by both UMNO and MCA leaders. Lim Ah Lek , a former minister was once the MP of Kuantan. UMNO was also represented by its MPs in Kuantan- Khalil Yaakob, Fauzi Rahman, the late Rahim Bakar were also MPs of Kuantan.

In the elastic elections of 2008, the seat was captured by Keadilan’s Fauziah Salleh. Now she is the elections director of PKR but she was virtually an unknown quantity the last time. She stood against Khalil Yaakob once and that was the time, she became relatively known as a combative and tenacious politician. People want this kind of qualities. This time around she won because of the buildup of general resentment against BN politics. Foo Ah Kiaw lost also because, the majority of the Malays didn’t want him.

While my theory of 60% and 40% holds true for the opposition, it will not necessarily hold true for BN. What I mean in this. If the voters are split into 60% Malays and 40% Chinese , a Malay candidate can win. I say a Malay candidate, not necessarily an UMNO candidate. Fauziah Saleh wasn’t from UMNO but she won precisely because the voting profile in Kuantan is 60% Malay and 40% Chinese. Generally speaking, Chinese will not vote for BN anymore.

The Chinese finds more resonance with the objectives fought by DAP. They are no longer concerned with rice issues but with idealistic issues such as good governance, fairness, justice, transparency, less crime, equal representation etc. These are not MCA issues. The issues fought for by MCA are yesterday’s’ issues.

Source: Sakmongkol AK47

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