|The buck stops here… at Manek Urai|
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin wants the July 14 Manek Urai by-election to mark the reversal of Barisan Nasional’s electoral fortunes.
This is the message that the Umno deputy president had driven home during a closed-door meeting yesterday, according to party leaders who attended.
“People are saying that Umno and BN is dead following the defeat in the earlier by-elections. The buck stops here. We want to win this by-election,” he told the meeting.
Of the seven by-elections held since after the March 8 general election last year, BN had only won one – Batang Ai in Sarawak.
The ruling coalition was defeated in Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau.
In May, BN chose not to contest in the Penanti by-election in Penang, where the state seat is considered an opposition stronghold.
‘Double your efforts’
According to party leaders, Muhyiddin also reprimanded party workers who turned up late before the BN entourage marched to the nomination centre.
“Why do you let the general arrive first?” asked the deputy premier, who is leading BN’s charge in the constituency which fell vacant following the death of the PAS incumbent
Muhyiddin also wanted the leaders of all Umno wings to double their efforts in the coming days to ensure there is at least an increase of one percent in support for the party.
“We should not concentrate our efforts on the Umno strongholds within the constituency, but also the PAS strongholds to win the hearts of the people,” he said.
Muhyiddin and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak are using the tagline ‘Rakyat Didahulukan, Manek Urai Diutamakan‘ (People first, Manek Urai prioritised) to attract the voters.
Helicopters and cops
In another development, questions are hovering about Muhyiddin using the services of two helicopters for his Mission Manek Urai.
Tongues are waging on whether the payment for this comes from the party or government’s coffers.
Apart from the aerial invasion, the tiny hamlet has also been swarmed by cars and the men in blue, bringing traffic to the otherwise placid town to a standstill.
Kelantan police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi said 2,100 personnel have been deployed and a huge makeshift police base has been erected near the Manek Urai village.
Meanwhile, Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) has called on the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission to make its presence felt in the Manek Urai by-election.
Mafrel’s Dr Abdul Halim Yusof said the watchdog has already detected several corrupt practices and wants MACC to act.
He suggested that MACC run a 24-hour complaint centre in the constituency, set up a hotline, short messaging system and email service for the public to give information.
The by-election pits PAS Mohd Fauzi Abdullah, 50 against Umno’s Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat, 39.