Thursday, September 18, 2014

PRKPengkalanKubor : Siamese community potential game-changer for Pengkalan Kubor by-election

pilihanraya kini     12:00 PM    


For the 1,638 voters in the Siamese community here, their votes hold the key towards victory for either PAS’ Wan Rosdi Wan Ibrahim or Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Mat Razi Mat Ail in the upcoming by-election.
With campaigning entering its fifth day today, both groups from the political divide have made their respective visits to the iconic Wat Machimmaram Thai-Buddhist temple, home of the largest sitting Buddha in Southeast Asia, to seek the approval of the nearly 2,000-strong Thai-descent community.
On the eve of nomination day last Friday, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, along with Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob and Wan Rosdi, made a low-key visit to the temple and its chief priest, Phrak Khru Wikthet Thammanard Tham Thit, popularly known as Pok Then.
It is learnt from a Siamese Buddhist priest that the relationship between 84-year-old Nik Aziz and 82-year-old Pok Then has been very cordial and close.
“Both men are deeply religious and have mutual respect for one another in fostering inter-religious harmony in Kelantan.
“In short, both are revered in the Siamese community,” said 43-year-old Buddhist priest Khun Wart, when met recently.
However, he said, Pok Then did not decree or tell the Siamese community on who to vote, as he was apolitical in his stance.
“There are community leaders, village heads and others who can influence the Siamese people here,” he added.
Yesterday, in a much more grand fashion, Deputy Prime Minster Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin met Pok Then and the Thai community at the same temple.
The event, which was also graced by Muhyiddin’s wife, Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman, Kelantan BN chairman Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Mat Razi and Thai-descent Senator Datuk Boon Som Inong, saw the BN turn on its charm in a more appealing fashion.
In addition to presenting a RM200,000 contribution to Pok Then as aid to teach the Thai language to the children of the community, Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, promised the Siamese community, Thai language teachers in national schools should they request for it.
He also reminded the Thai-descent community of the federal government’s contribution in according them Bumiputera status and seats to further their studies in public institutions to uplift their community.
The introduction of Mat Razi was also met with cheers from the Siamese community as he was a familiar face in the area.
“I am sure all of you remember ‘Toke Ayeh Mat Ail’ (Tauke Ayam Mat Ail), who used to sell chicken in this very kampung,” Mat Razi said to the laughter of the community.
Mat Razi’s familiarity with the community should give him an extra edge during the Sept 25 polls.
According to Kampung Jubakar Darat Siamese community head Phon En Ghee, Siamese community votes for the Barisan Nasional has been increasing since the 2004 General Election (GE).
“During the 11th GE, 606 people voted for BN while during the 12th GE, BN secured 612 votes, but the amount increased substantially last GE when 782 voted for BN,” Phon En Ghee said during his speech at the temple community hall yesterday.
The 13th GE saw 1,012 Siamese folks casting their votes for BN, with PKR only garnering 83 votes, Independent candidate Izat Bukhary Ismail Bukhary getting merely 3 votes and 16 others were spoilt votes.
The Siamese community, which make up nearly 7% of the 24,039 voters, could be the ultimate decider as PAS’ entry in by-election following PKR’s withdrawal could cause the Malay votes, which comprises 92% of the 24,039 registered voters, to split.
The by-election here will see Mat Razi, 48, go against Wan Rosdi, 56, and independent Izat Bukhary, 47.
The by-election was called for after BN incumbent Datuk Noor Zahidi Omar of BN, passed away on Aug 20.
Last year, Noor Zahidi beat PKR’s Shaharun Ibrahim and Izat Bukhary with a majority of 1,736 votes.


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