Just as in Rompin, the GST and the higher cost of living are likely to be uppermost among voters’ concerns in Permatang Pauh.
A mainland Penang resident reports:
“On Monday night, I went to a ceramah nearby. Dr Toh Kin Woon and Tian Chua were among the speakers. Among the issues raised: GST, the crackdown against the opposition, 1MDB, financial abuses, corruption. As a conscientious voter in Permatang Pauh, I offered my services as polling agent, counting agent, booth agent and even transport service, but they have enough. They only need call centre agents to call voters to vote.”
A couple of weeks ago, a Pas grassroots leader, a pro-Hadi guy, told me that Pas would heed instructions from the party headquarters to help in the campaign. But, he said, the grassroots Pas machinery would be unlikely to go all out doing the “dirty (manual) work” on the ground unlike in the past.
Indeed, one activist who visited Permatang Pauh yesterday noted PKR’s poor election machinery in the area and predicted a reduced majority for the party.
A PKR politician who has been campaigning in Permatang Pauh says the main issues he can see on the ground are GST and the higher cost of living.
He doesn’t think hudud is a major issue; in that respect, perhaps it is just as well that the mainstream Pas presence is a little low key and allows PKR to distance itself from the Pas conservatives.
Some have expressed reservations about the choice of Wan Azizah as candidate while others say there could be election fatigue in the area.
To this, the PKR politician insisted, “Anwar’s popularity is still intact.” Some argue the fact that the BN candidate is a local guy would work in the BN’s favour. But the PKR politician counters this by arguing that Anwar himself is from Permatang Pauh.
The style of campaigning has also changed over the years, he observes; more emphasis is now being given to social media and cellphones.
Still, he expects a lower turnout which he thinks will dent Pakatan’s winning majority to around 5000.
For me, the big question is whether the majority of those not showing up will be out-of-town Pakatan voters or BN supporters disgruntled with GST/the higher cost of living.
If it is anything like Rompin, then the lower turnout could hurt BN more. But in Permatang Pauh, the added unknown is how many Pas supporters, especially in Permatang Pasir, will stay away as well.