Manek Urai, Kelantan – Our Firefly flight has safely touched down the land of the budu and batiks.
Last Friday, I was here for a brief operative trip on a chopper. This visit would be an extensive one, aimed to support the expedite of final programmes before BN and PAS face-off each other with a straight fight on Tuesday.
Manek Urai DUN N.41
Manek Urai (MU) is located within the territories of Kuala Krai which consists of over 12 thousand voters with 99 percent of them being Malays. Most of the paternal breadwinners here are farmers, rubber tappers and minor traders.
The highways here are flanked by pristine green forests with sporadic dots of shop lots and warongs along the way. I noticed how the commercial sector is monopolized by the locals. One can rarely spot a shop that bears the usual Chinese names like those in the towns of KL, Malacca or Penang. Rather than seeing Kedai Besi Hock Guan or Restoran Lee Hong Gan, there are the likes of Syarikat Wan Daud or Kedai Makan Maimunah.
Political Campaigning in MU
I must say that in terms of local political advertising, PAS has obviously outshone BN in Manek Urai.
1. Setup and Concept
One main feature of the opposition’s electoral appurtenances is visibility. As compared to the Barisan Nasional, the PAS machinery makes full use of its banners, buntings, flags and balloons at their camps and operation points.
These paraphernalia are creatively arranged without formality. The colorful parade-like decor creates a lively ambiance which entices its party supporters and curious onlookers hoarding the talks held at their posts.
In fact, their campaigning domain had trails of stalls by the road side selling local food products and election souvenirs. For the past few nights, the traffic in Manek Urai was unbelievably slow because of PAS’ campaigning programmes.
I saw people from different groups of society calmly walking towards the ceramah spots and hoarding the stalls. During the prayer hours there would be massive congregational prayers with Nik Aziz whereas at other times the speakers would be blasting off entertaining dikir barat or wayang kulit music.
2. Wording and Pictorial
The taglines of the PAS banners and buntings are much more appealing to the dwellers especially when it states that “Tok Guru Memimpin, Manek Urai Berkat“. Images of the party’s leader Tuan Hj Nik Aziz is more highlighted and ubiquitious than the party’s candidate Fauzi bin Haji Abdullah.
The Islamic party are conscious of the Manek Urai voters’ political sensibilities which includes;
a) Their reverence of Tn Hj. Nik Aziz as an Islamic spiritual leader
b) Their Islamic outlook of life where material wealth and the development of state is not the main goal of life but instead to seek the pleasure of Allah.
Nevertheless, the outstanding campaigning presence of PAS could not be made as the foundation of analysis of the Manek Urai by-election. Various factors should be taken into consideration such as the candidates, the voters’ mood, micro-environmental scanning and others. To simply rely on electoral psywar would lead to derailing assumptions and expectations.
The voters of Manek Urai are sedentary in nature. Some are yearning for development to improve their level of income whereas there are also those who are not willing to accept abrupt modernisation especially when it is at the expense of their faith.
It is all up to UMNO to ameliorate the MU community’s perception that modernisation by UMNO equals to corruption and that only Nik Aziz can administer Manek Urai under the blessings of Allah.
Tomorrow’s results shall be the testing barometer of the party’s efforts.