The by-election is on for the Tenang state constituency slated for January 30, left vacant following the death of BN state assemblyman Dato Sulaiman Taha on January 17. The ‘battle’ will be between two opposing sexes i.e. BN is fielding Mohd Azahar Ibrahim 39, a former civil servant, and PR in Normala Sudirman 38, a former teacher. The nomination of the latter as a candidate was announced a few days ahead of the former. Both are young an aspiring candidates with many more years ahead of them in the business of politics.
Tenang, located in the parliamentary constitution of Labis, Johore is largely a rural area, and its constituents is made up of 47.5% Malays, 39% Chinese and 12% Indians, from a total of 14,753 voters. Tenang, like all other rural constituencies in Johore, has traditionally been a UMNO/BN stronghold. It was only during the 2008 General Election that the state was jolted with some constituencies falling into the hands of the opposition.
It would be interesting to see what the two candidates have to offer to its constituents during the week long campaigning, beginning January 22 until the eve of voting day. The BN having an edge in countless resources (party or otherwise) has the obvious head start. PR on the other hand would have to strive hard to at least reduce the majority win of the previous state assemblyman over its opponent, if the PR hopes to see its chances in the next General Elections. I do not know what sort of resources is available to Normala to take on the challenge.
Despite meager resources, Normala could still pose a strong challenge to Mohd Azahar for three strong reasons; firstly, Normala is a local of Tenang and with obvious grass root support. Secondly, she being a teacher would have a strong appeal to the women folks, and being women, they would naturally have a soft spot in supporting their own kind. Thirdly, the role of her husband who is also a teacher in getting voters sympathy support for Normala, should not be discounted. The sudden decision taken by the state education authorities to post out Normal’s husband to Johore Baru, but was later withdrawn, was discriminatory on the part of the authorities. The reason given was that ‘he was not able to control the wife’ is absolute nonsense. How on earth could the education authorities come out with such a reason for the reassignment of Normala’s husband? Little wonder there has been several controversies in the past caused by teachers in Johore. Even the Johore state education director is not free of controversy. My advice to such teachers is that if they want to be involved in politics, please resign; and just follow the course taken by Normala.
As I have alluded above, Mohd Azahar will get all the resources he wants to win this by-election. That is no problem, and a start has already been announced by PM Najib himself that an allocation of RM 1 billion (not a million) is available to FELDA. I do not know where that allocation is coming from, but I suppose FELDA is still financially capable to allocate such a huge amount. But my question is…..why was the announcement made now and for what? Let’s hope that it not going to build another 100storey building in Tenang.
I do not wish to predict the winner of this by-election for I am no ‘tukang tilik’. My only hope is that whoever wins please do not just ignore the plight of the rural folks of Tenang for they truly need your care. And worse still, to abandon them upon winning, and to only appear at the end of your term is a grevious sin.
Finally, best of luck to Mohd Azhar Ibrahim and Normala Sudirman, and my the best win.
CRUSADE AGAINST CORRUPTION