Sungai Limau by-election campaign enters its fifth day today and the ground seems going well for Barisan Nasional (BN) as PAS loses grip of the voters, particularly the young ones.
PAS young voters and young supporters do not seem to stand out in the campaign trail as the party’s ceramahs held nightly have only been attended by a handful of old folks, hardly one hundred at each ceramah.
The ceramahs by both sides of the political divide began on Friday night as the weather has been fine with rainfalls only in the afternoon, not till late nights like Wednesday and Thursday.
And the last Friday and Saturday nights, PAS seemed to have failed to rally the few hundreds crowd at each ceramah, a stark contrast to the party’s normal ceramahs that attracted few hundreds if not by the thousands.
The youngsters, the normal PAS supporters who have been prevalent in controlling traffic every party ceramah and putting up banners and flags were absent in Sungai Limau, reflecting two things – PAS influence is fading among the youngsters and the party’s internal friction rears its ugly head.
Sungai Limau has been PAS bastion since 1995 and the late Datuk Seri Azizan Razak, who was one-term Mentri Besar, was well-loved by Sungai Limau’s 41,400-odd population of whom 27,222 would be casting their votes on Nov 4.
After his demise, the party had problems in choosing its candidates as the state PAS is split into three factions – Azizan’s fundamentalist faction, present party state commissioner Datuk Mahfuz Omar whose faction is close to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and former exco member Datuk Phahrolrazi Zawawi who leads his own faction not aligned to any side.
Phahrolrazi had staged a rebellion against the late Azizan when he latter was Menteri Besar but failed and this had led to the break-away of Phahrolrazi’s supporters, who is said to have boycotted the current by-election.
Mahfuz, whose leadership is not well accepted by the fundamentalists in the state for his closeness with Anwar, has been in Kuala Lumpur to attend the the Parliament session and thus, his presence is not felt at all.
With such situation, the campaigning is left to the fundamentalists and Azizan’s group whose style is the traditionally holding ceramahs, completely detached from the normal kampong style of shaking hands and a small chat.
Lucky for this group, the party women wing – the Muslimah – is all out going house-to-house campaign wooing support which normally stars around 8am to afternoon.
But the concentration with this method of campaigning is the old folks who are known to be staunch PAS supporters who actually need no further ‘push’ mentally.
BN on the other hand seems to have penetrated the PAS bastion by focusing on the young voters who the past five days could be seen filling up BN’s operation centres in droves on their motorcycles.
They seem to be attracted to BN’s Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Dr Mahathir’s whose personality is somewhat alike the late Azizan – soft spoken, always smiling and looking straight in the eyes when talking person-to-person.
Talks among kampong folks are that ‘Mukhriz budak baik’ (Mukhriz is a good boy) who should be given a ‘peluang’ (chance).
Whether this will be translated into votes on Nov 4 is yet to be seen but the fact remains that BN has penetrated the PAS bastion through the young voters.