KUANTAN: Pahang will see some excitement in this elections as Barisan Nasional prepare themselves for several serious battles in their quest to win all 14 parliamentary seats and retain its two-thirds majority in the state assembly.
In previous elections, there was not much “real action” due to a lacklustre Opposition line-up to challenge the Barisan coalition.
However, this elections is a different ballgame with several Opposition bigwigs leading the charge coupled with independent candidates and a dormant political party joining in the fray.
The much touted three-cornered fight in Pekan fizzled out as student leader Mohamed Bukhairy Sofian backed out, leaving PKR supreme council member Mohd Fariz Abd Talib @ Musa in a straight fight with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Another battle of the chieftains involved incumbent Bentong MP and Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai against “greenie” Wong Tack.
The Himpunan Hijau chairman, who will be contesting under a DAP ticket, is set to mount a strong challenge against Liow, capitalising on the health-related issues in Gebeng and Bukit Koman.
Former Teluk Intan MP M. Manogaran of the DAP will lock horns with MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel in Cameron Highlands in a five-cornered fight.
Others in the race include Mohd Shokri Mahmood from Berjasa and two independents - T. Alagu and K. Kisho Kumar.
The constituency, perceived to be a “safe seat” initially, was no longer a sure win for either Barisan and Pakatan Rakyat.
Much is at stake for Palanivel as he must secure a win with a good majority to put to rest criticisms by his detractors that MIC was a “spent force.”
Sparks are set to fly with PKR vice-president Fuziah Salleh defending her seat against Kuantan Umno Youth chief Datuk Mohamed Suffian Awang in a straight fight for the Kuantan parliament, a seat on loan to Umno by the MCA.
Neighbouring Indera Mahkota parliament will see a three-cornered fight involving former Umno deputy minister Datuk Fauzi Abdul Rahman, Kuantan Umno division chief Datuk Wan Adnan Wan Mamat and independent G. Ponusamy @ Ram.
Wan Adnan was the incumbent Tanjung Lumpur assemblyman and an executive councillor, prior to the dissolution of the Pahang state assembly, while Ponusamy was a former Pahang PKR vice-chairman.
Fauzi, the Pahang PKR chairman, will be under pressure to retain the Indera Mahkota parliamentary seat which was won by Azan Ismail - of whom he was at odds with - causing a split within the state leadership.
Azan has since being taken out of the state, appointed the Terengganu PKR chief, and leading the charge there.
In Temerloh, outspoken incumbent Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah will face a credible opponent in PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi.
At the state level, PAS information chief Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man will be looking forward to avenge his defeat to incumbent Jengka assemblyman Wan Salman Wan Ismail.
In 2008, Wan Salman defeated him with a majority of 596 votes.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob will be defending Pelangai, a seat he won in the last five elections, against newcomer Abdul Hamid Bahatim of PAS.
Liow’s political secretary Leong Kim Soon expressed his intention to continue the legacy of his granduncle - the late Tan Sri Chan Siang Sun - who had contributed much to the development of Bentong.
Leong will face Bentong DAP Youth chief Chow Yu Hui in Bilut, a battle between two promising youth leaders.
Five-term DAP Triang assemblyman Leong Ngah Ngah will be switching seat to contest in Tanah Rata while the Pakatan expressed its confidence in retaining three other seats it won in 2008 - Tras, Kuala Semantan and Beserah.
Sabai will be interesting to see if DAP Kamache Doray Rajoo can repeat her feat in wresting the seat from the MIC, who is fielding its Bera MIC division chief R. Goonasakaren, also Adnan’s special officer.
In the last elections, Kamache lost by just a whisker - 145 votes - to incumbent Datuk M. Davendran.
All in, five parliament seats - Cameron Highlands, Lipis, Indera Mahkota, Paya Besar and Bera - will see independents contesting.
These hopefuls are taking advantage of the volatile political scenario to create an upset, similar to Tanah Rata incumbent Datuk Ho Yip Kap, who contested in 2008 as an independent.
Ho won in that elections with a 575-vote majority before applying to join Gerakan in 2010.
He would be seeking a second term in office under Barisan after exchanging the Ketari with the MCA.
Damak will see a four-cornered fight with two independents while three-cornered fights will take place in Tanah Rata, Jelai, Semambu, Lepar, Peramu Jaya, Luit, Jenderak, Bukit Ibam and Tioman.
Among the independents include a woman doctor Dr Cheam May Choo in Tanah Rata, businessman T. Alagu in Jelai, an ex-imam Mohd Zolfakar Taib in Tioman, blogger Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli @ Cucumatkilau in Semambu and several disgruntled Opposition leaders.
For more election stories, please visit The Star’s GE13 site