TUMPAT, September 27 – Barisan Nasional’s (BN) win in the Pengkalan Kubor state seat by-election with a bigger majority yesterday, shows Mat Razi Mat Ail to be a good example of a winnable candidate that is much needed by Umno and BN to regain voters’ support.
His name was not well known before the by-election and he was not among those touted as the possible BN candidates, and even more worrying was the culture of “cah keting” or sabotage which had often been the factor for BN’s loss in Kelantan.
However, when Mat Razi, 48, was chosen and his candidacy announced by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin three days before the nomination of candidates for the by-election, the former Tumpat district assistant education officer was well accepted by the Tumpat Umno division and the party’s three wings – Wanita, Youth and Puteri.
Mat Razi, who has an honours degree in Malay Letters and History from Universiti Kebangsaaan Malaysia, also easily found acceptance with the local residents, largely due to his educational background, work experience and wide Islamic religious knowledge.
The former teacher is called “ustaz” (religious teacher) by the local folk as he had founded the Pondok Simpangan village religious school for the young to study the Quran and Islam, and also indicating that he is a respectable figure in the area.
Moreover, the Pengkalan Kubor state seat has a number of pondok religious schools – institutions which are close to the local folk’s hearts for studying the Islamic religion.”This is what you could call a winnable candidate, for he (Mat Razi) had met the criteria wanted by the ‘rakyat’ (people), particularly the voters here who were to choose the candidate to represent them,” said political observer, Adjunct Professor Datuk Hasan Haron of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
Mat Razi retained the Pengkalan Kubor seat for Barisan Nasional with a 2,635-vote majority, 889 votes more than the 1,736-vote majority secured by the area’s incumbent assemblyman, the late Datuk Noor Zahidi Omar, in the 13th general election last year.
Mat Razi garnered 9,961 votes in yesterday’s by-election, defeating PAS candidate Wan Rosdi Wan Ibrahim who obtained 7,326 votes and Independent candidate Izat Bukhary Ismail Bukhary, who even lost his deposit when he received only 38 votes.
Hasan said the victory was contributed in large part by young voters,indicating a trend of positive thinking returning towards Umno and BN.”I see Umno, BN and PAS as having their own hardcore supporters. They are immovable and had made up their minds early compared to the young voters and fence-sitters.
“Indeed these young voters and fence-sitters too had contributed to BN’s win in Pengkalan Kubor,” he said.Hasan said if Umno and BN could maintain the momentum of support from the young, they could hope to rule Kelantan again with the next (14th) general election.
He said among PAS members and supporters, there were those who were unhappy over PAS often being bullied or made use of by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in many issues and he believed that the lesser votes for PAS this time could be translated into a protest against the party’s leadership.
Muhyiddin who was delighted with the outcome in Pengkalan Kubor, had outlined that besides the candidate factor, the Kelantan BN by-election machinery assisted by BN leaders and members from all over the country had also contributed effectively to the coalition in the by-election.
“This win by BN is extraordinary, and among the factors have been the effective BN election machinery, the candidate’s good background and issues like the oil royalty that were well dealt with,” he said.BN’s effectiveness in managing the issues raised by the opposition including through well-planned rebuttals not only managed to rid off confusion from the voters’ minds but also inabled the PAS election machinery to capitalise on the issues.
PAS’ strategy to contest back the seat after PKR lost it to BN in the last two general elections and to draw more support for the party, obviously failed.The Islamist party appeared to be “alone” throughout the campaign period as most of the top leaders from its allies, PKR and DAP, in the opposition pact were not seen around and although the PAS campaign picked up steam towards the end, it was to no avail.
For the victorious Mat Razi, many voters in Pengkalan Kubor would like to remind him – always find out about the people’s lot and continue the legacy of the late Noor Zahidi.