In this large rural constituency of Kelantan, the mood appears calm. The by-election has gotten off to a slow start, with limited posters and modest turnout at ceramahs, where enterprising Kelantanese entrepreneurs and outside supporters outnumber the local crowds.

From the onset, there is a sense of fatigue as the 12th by-election in two years unfolds. All sides say the contest in this traditional Umno seat is close, but given the small PAS majority of  646 votes - less than 10 percent - and the resource edge that gives the BN weight in such a concentrated by-election, the BN has the advantage.

The bottom line is that Umno needs the victory more, and if they lose the contest, it will be the result of...

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