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BN and PH intend to avoid campaigning on racial issues in Rantau

30 Mar 2019 / 18:41 H.

REMBAU: Both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) have opted to campaign across multi-ethnic lines rather than on racial issues, as the campaign for the seventh by-election since last year’s general election formally began near here today.

In view of the mixed demographics among the 29,926 registered voters in the constituency, politicians from either side of the fray have been cautious not to antagonize any particular voting group.

In Rantau, 55% of the voters are Malays, 26% are Indians and 18% are Chinese, while the remainder are made up of smaller minority groups.

BN candidate Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, who was previously the four term assemblyperson and was also a three term mentri besar, said that campaigning should not undermine national harmony in the area.

Mohamad, currently performs the duties of an acting Umno president, due to party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi going on leave to handle the various corruption charges against him. Mohamad was the elected Umno deputy president, a position he had won in last year’s party elections.

He told theSun that it would be a tough campaign in view that BN is no longer the dominant national coalition. Hence, he needed to work extra hard to woo over the fence sitters.

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said that the party will work with PAS to campaign on issues related to the rising cost of living.

“The living cost challenges affect everybody – Malay, Indian and Chinese.”

Ismail also said that former premier Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak may be invited to campaign on behest of BN, but the invitation would usually come from third parties such as civil societies other than Umno.

“Ahmad Zahid was here. So we are flexible on the campaigning strategy.”

Meanwhile, Selangor’s PKR executive councillor V. Ganabatirau said that Pakatan will not be entrapped by racial issues.

Rather, this is a campaign about the moderation of Pakatan versus the extremism, which Umno tries to advocate, according to Ganabatirau.

“I feel the media should not be focusing on race but rather on the political movements now in the country. One stands for all races through moderation, while another wants to continue with the topic of racialism and rightist.”

The Rantau state by-election in Negri Sembilan is the seventh since May 9th after the Sungai Kandis state seat (Aug 4), Balakong and Seri Setia state seats (Sept 8); all of which were held in Selangor.

Then, there was the Port Dickson parliamentary seat on Oct 13, which marked the return of PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to Parliament.

The by-elections held last year were swept by Pakatan.

Since January, however, BN through Umno has been on the ascent, winning the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat and the Semenyih state seat.

Pakatan candidate Dr S. Steram feels that although Mohamad was a long serving mentri besar, he did not really pour his energy into serving Rantau.

The area lacks the feel of a modern township except for Sendayan, which is a sprawling housing estate but with only limited residents, he observed.

The two Independent candidates are Ustaz Mohd Nor Yassin, who wants to ensure that there is Islamic leadership in the constituency, while R. Malarvizhi wants the plight of the poor to be addressed better.

The duo may dilute the Malay and Indian support for BN and Pakatan, respectively.

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