Where Bulan dances & Dacing watches

This state election will be a case of survival for Kelantan BN 

THERE is neither Pakatan Harapan (PH) nor Perikatan Nasional (PN) in Kelantan’s political sphere. No PKR, no Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, no Parti Amanah Negara, let alone DAP, MCA or MIC. 

There’s only the Bulan in one corner, and the Dacing in the other corner. And that has been the case since time immemorial. 

It is not a simple case of racism but the state of 1.9 million people with 97% Malay population should not be faulted for being belligerent in choosing their representatives’ idealism. 

Kelantan’s state politics, however, was illustrious, and far from monotonous – though it was quite simple, really. 

To win, one has to deck itself in either the green of the moon or the blue of the scales. And more times than not, the victors have always been swathed in green. 

The state is synonymous with PAS, where the Islamic political party has been in power for the majority of its modern history. PAS has controlled Kelantan democratically since the first general and state election of the independent Persekutuan Tanah Melayu in 1959. 

PAS’ hold on Kelantan loosened after an emergency was declared on the state in 1977, but it regained power shortly after in 1990. 

Another blip was the close call of 2004 when Barisan Nasional (BN) — filling the nation with mountains of expectation in the form of a new president Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after decades of prosperous iron-clad Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad era — nearly wrested Kelantan away but for a single state assembly seat. 

PAS, however, regained its mojo at the 2008 general election (GE) by winning the two-third majority of the Kelantan state assembly, and has never looked back since. The following GEs and state elections have strengthened their position further. 

In the 14th GE (GE14) of 2018, the “green wave” swept much earlier through the state and PAS trumped the Opposition to win 37 seats, leaving the balance eight DUN seats to BN. 

PAS cemented their position further in the following GE (for Parliamentary seats) with even their PN partner Bersatu’s candidates trumping the Opposition wherever they stand under the moon logo. 

Almost all Opposition candidates contesting in 14 Kelantan Parliamentary constituencies against PN candidates under the PAS banner in GE15 were wiped out with no less than 20,000 majority votes. Only Gua Musang, bastion to the world’s previous longest-serving BN parliamentarian Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, fell with a thin majority of 134 votes won by PAS-Bersatu’s Mohd Azizi Abu Naim. 

For the upcoming state elections, and with the national undercurrent of the green wave following the formation of the unity government helmed by PH and BN, political commentators are observing mountains to be scaled by those who dare to challenge the Kelantan status quo. 

“It would be almost impossible (BN to wrest control from PAS). BN will not be able to even maintain their existing seven seats, let alone win even another. The only chance they have would be the Gua Musang seats,” an observer noted. 

The N43 Nenggiri, N44 Paloh and N45 Galas state seats under the P032 Gua Musang parliamentary constituency are held by BN reps Ab Aziz Yusoff, Amran Ariffin and Mohd Syahbuddin Hashim respectively since GE14. 

The other four BN DUN seats in the state are N25 Kok Lanas, N27 Gual Ipoh, N36 Bukit Bunga and N38 Kuala Balah held by Datuk Seri Dr Md Alwi Che Ahmad, Bakri Mustapha, Mohd Adnan Kecik and Datuk Abdul Aziz Derashid respectively. 

So. Would the blue corner be able to make a dent this time around? 

“Nope, it will be very hard for BN in the (coming) state elections,” said another observer. 

“With the current arrangement at the national level (BN in unity government with archenemy DAP and PKR), even the old guards are pulling out or changing sides,” he added, explicably referring to BN heavyweights Md Alwi, who decided to not defend his seat at Kok Lanas, and Tan Sri Annuar Musa, who insinuated that he’ll be participating in the election as a PAS candidate. 

Would Kelantan be a mere formality then? 

“It won’t be, but it will definitely not be a contest though,” he added. “This election will be a case of survival for Kelantan BN.” – TMR

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition