Sunday March 17, 2013
GE13: Terengganu put in the hot seat
By FARIK ZOLKEPLI
Barisan is in a bid to keep a comfortable hold on the state as the Opposition readies to fight tooth and nail.
THIS general election will be an acid test for Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said who will lead Barisan Nasional in its bid to retain the state with a much more comfortable majority compared to 2008 when the coalition won six out of eight parliamentary seats and 24 of the 32 state seats.
Ahmad was appointed to his post in controversial fashion after the victory as incumbent Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh was Barisan's choice but the Sultan of Terengganu wanted Ahmad instead.
That led to an ugly split within Terengganu Umno so Ahmad needs a convincing win this time to show that his leadership is accepted by fellow Umno leaders as well as the rakyat.
Ahmad has been perceived as a not-so-modern leader due to a lack of major development in the state, unlike during Idris' tenure. However, despite criticisms about his so-called kampung-style leadership, Ahmad has his own way of connecting with the rakyat.
Take, for example, a simple event at which rice is distributed to villagers. Ahmad would be there to chat personally with everyone.
Furthermore, his efforts to provide more benefits to students, especially the e-book programme, has earned him public support.
One of the main issues in the state is the oil royalty. It has caused quite a stir in cyberspace as many are arguing over the rightful amount of royalty that should be given to the state.
The question, though, is whether the state will get a new Mentri Besar.
Umno insiders have pointed out that the party leadership wants a solution to the factions within Terengganu Umno.
One way would be to move Ahmad and his predecessor Idris to parliamentary seats. Among those tipped as the potential new Mentri Besar are Kuala Nerus MP Datuk Nasir Ibrahim Fikri and Kemaman MP Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
This elections will also see changes in Terengganu PAS, with the leadership aiming to field younger candidates and also female candidates. However, it remains to be seen if PAS' choices will rejuvenate the party and connect with young voters.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, who currently holds the Marang parliamentary and Rhu Rendang state seats, has announced that he would only be contesting one seat.
Abdul Hadi has indicated that he is more willing to defend the Marang seat, leading to speculation that Terengganu PAS commissioner Abdul Wahid Endut would contest the Rhu Rendang seat.
Abdul Wahid would then be Pakatan Rakyat's candidate for Mentri Besar should Pakatan wrest the state.
PAS' list of candidates remains a mystery except for incumbents such as Datuk Harun Taib.
Barisan is eyeing the Opposition stronghold of Manir, currently held by Harun, who is PAS Ulama council chief. Barisan's possible candidate is newcomer Yusof Awang Hitam, who has been working the ground for the past two years. It is said that Harun may not be contesting due to a number of ailments. If this is the case, PAS would be hard-pressed to find a capable replacement.
MCA's lone seat of Bandar will also be a hot one with exco member Datuk Toh Chin Yaw likely to face a DAP candidate from Kluang, Johor.
The talk is that Toh is facing dwindling support but the experienced politician may have some surprises up his sleeves.
Kijal is another seat that will be in the spotlight as the question is whether Ahmad will defend it. If he is to be replaced, many party insiders speculate that he would swap seats with Ahmad Shabery.
The Kedai Payang market, more popularly known as Pasar Payang, is the state's textile hub where locals as well as tourists could get their hands on quality batik, songket and all sorts of textile that made the state popular.
The market, which has been around for decades, is also home to Terengganu's local delights such as keropok lekor.
The market holds sentimental value for many Malaysians, whereby the mere mention of Pasar Payang promises a variety of Terengganu delights.
Terengganu is also home to some of the most picturesque islands in the country, namely Pulau Redang and Pulau Perhentian.
A visit to the state will not be complete without a visit to the islands, which are the pride of Terengganu's tourism industry.
The crystal clear water is always a draw for tourists, local and foreign, while the richness of marine life is testament to Terengganu's islands being ranked among the best in the region.
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