Malaysiakini Letter

Rantau by-election: Who will be the best man to win?

Amerul Azry Abdul Aziz  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | The long-awaited Rantau by-election should be announced soon.

The state seat is a "fortress" which has, since 2004, been led by the current Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan, who won uncontested in the recent GE14.

Prominently known as “Tok Mat”, Mohamad would have his energy and spirits boosted for the by-election. As a well-liked politician of the day, he, of course, doesn’t want to get his state seat relinquished to his opponent, a PKR man.

Tok Mat, to be frank, is a people’s leader. I can say this because I’m one of his constituents. His down-to-earth character makes him a well-respected politician, whom I believe would have been a sturdy opponent against Anwar Ibrahim in the Port Dickson by-election if Umno named him as a candidate.

His previous mantles as a corporate man have equipped him with recipes to be a chief minister of a state. He did well for the people of Negeri Sembilan, especially his constituents. And most importantly, he had excellently administered the state by reinvigorating its physical developments and also enshrined the potential economic resources that can be developed in the future.

But well, the current political ambience in Negeri Sembilan is now different. Since May 9, BN was unseated from the political clout of the state.

Tok Mat is now the opposition leader of the state, and he boldly promised in the recently-convened state assembly that he will persistently play his part in making sure that the new administration can fulfil promises which were “sold” to the voters before the GE14.

If we talk about the possible by-election in the Tok Mat’s constituency in a broader context, we might be saying that he is perfectly fit to oppose the currently-led state government. In other words, if votes are cast by every eligible voter of the state, Tok Mat could win.

But the thing is, the by-election will only happen in Rantau. Only registered voters from the constituency can cast their votes and put them into ballot boxes. The national perception of “Tok Mat is the best leader” can’t be cobbled into winning factors of the second man of Umno.

From my perspective as a voter of the constituency, Tok Mat could easily win the by-election if “politically independent voters” like me don’t shift our sentiments to supporting the powerful political party of the day, PKR.

Everyone, from school kids to still-alive “golden generations”, knows Tok Mat. He’s recognised and known for his casualties in winning the hearts of the people. But still, in politics, “votes are secret.”

Dr S Streram (photo) probably has his own strategies in winning the by-election. If he was willing to get his electoral petition filed in the court, why wouldn’t he work hard to win the game he has begun?

What I can say, for now, is that the by-election would be a tough game for the candidates.

Streram has the “political advantage” if he represents Pakatan Harapan, the government of today. While Tok Mat is a likeable candidate, despite holding the “unfavourable” party flag. Two of them have their own strengths in winning the fourth by-election of the year.

Following the PKR national congress last weekend, it would mean that newly elected PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, his deputy president and the rest of top stalwarts might be campaigning for Streram in persuading the people of Rantau to vote for the PKR candidate.

Tok Mat would also bring his political comrades to go all out in securing his victory - Zahid Hamidi, Ahmad Maslan, and of course, Khairy Jamaluddin would be handing their loud support for their beloved deputy president. They will go to each place in the constituency to tell the people that “Tok Mat is the best choice and irreplaceable. Vote for him!”

I could imagine that the small town of Rantau will be congested with unusual traffics. It’s like a big festival where people around the nation would come to campaign for the electoral candidates whom they chant for.

As a youth who was raised in the constituency, I would be happy to see my place being visited by multi-state people, especially big-name leaders from both political sides. Rantau would be a "tourism spot" during the campaign.

As a Rantau boy, I have always believed that the constituency is only deserved to be led by a leader who loves his people and vice versa. The future of Rantau will be in the hand of the winner. May the best man win.

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