G Vinod | April 17, 2013
The PKR candidate for the Pasir Salak parliamentary seat in Perak admits it will be tough for him to win the seat from Umno as it is a rural seat.
PETALING JAYA: Perak PKR is not affected by Ahmad Taufik Hassan’s departure from the party, said PKR candidate for the Pasir Salak parliamentary seat, Mustafa Kamil Ayub.
“It’s merely psychological warfare and there is no impact. PKR and Pakatan presence in the state remains strong,” said Mustafa in an interview.
On April 2, Pasir Salak PKR division chief Ahmad Taufik Hassan and several others left the party to join Umno after Mustafa was announced as the candidate for the Pasir Salak parliamentary seat.
Mustafa claimed that Umno even used its own members, pretending to be PKR members, to say that they were upset with the party and “join” Umno.
He cited an example in a past general election, when Umno announced that 200 members from the Parit PAS division had left the party.
“They announced that 200 PAS members were leaving the division on a daily basis. So when the election day came, 2,000 PAS members had supposedly left the division in total.
“The truth is Parit PAS division only had 200 members. So where did the balance 1,800 people come from? In the end, PAS won the constituency anyway,” said Mustafa. Rural Malays changing.
On his candidacy for Pasir Salak, Mustafa admitted that it will be tough for him to wrest the seat from Umno as it was a rural seat.
He also admitted that he was initially reluctant to contest there, as many viewed him as an urban candidate, but said that PKR supremo Anwar Ibrahim had managed to persuade him otherwise.
“This is my base. I was born and bred in Kampung Gajah, a village in Pasir Salak. So Anwar felt that I was best person to contest here,” said Mustafa.
Describing Pasir Salak, Mustafa said that it was predominantly a rural Malay setting, with only 20% non-Malays live there.
“And one fourth of the Malays here live in Felcra settlements. So you can consider this place as an Umno stronghold,” he said.
However, he said that Pakatan has managed to make inroads in the seat in recent years as many are exposed to news published on the alternative media.
“Recently, we had a ceramah session in Changkat Lada and nearly 10,000 people attended it. It was unlike in 2008 where the turnout was dismal.
“Even rural Malays are changing. We are even making inroads to villages dominated by Javanese, who are usually known as traditional Umno supporters,” he said.
Mustafa added that he is also banking on the nearly 2,000 young voters registered in Pasir Salak, who are working elsewhere but will be returning home to cast their ballots.
“In the last 10 years, three big factories closed down and many of them moved to Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and even Singapore to work.
“These young voters are exposed to the new media and they will be coming back to vote,” he said.
On what are the major challenges he is facing in Pasir Salak, Mustafa said that many Malays look at him as an urban candidate eventhough he is from that locality.
“Since I studied in a boarding school, many Pasir Salak Malays put me on a pedestal and think of me as a city guy. They are also a bit shy to talk to me.
“But I still try my best to get close to them. I even resorted to wearing sarongs more often than pants just to ensure they feel comfortable being around me,” he said,with a chuckle.
If voted as an MP, Mustafa said that he would urge the government to revamp the dividend payment system to Felcra settlers, claiming it was too low.
“The twice a year payment model also needs to be changed to monthly basis. This will be more helpful to the settlers,” he said.
Mustafa said that he would also address the constituency’s two main problems, lack of jobs and poor public transportation system.
“As I mentioned earlier, three factories in Pasir Salak closed down in the last decade. So I would like to bring in more investors to the place in order to create jobs for the locals,” he said.
Mustafa added that the constituency also needed an improvement on its public transportions system, starting with the set up of a main bus terminal to connect with major cities in the Peninsula.
The PKR leader also said that Pasir Salak had great potential to be promoted as a recreation area and historical site.
“Many have forgotten that our first struggle against the British started here in Pasir Salak, when Dato Maharajelala killed the first Perak Resident, JWW Birch,” he said.