Polls campaign starts to heat up


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 21 Aug 2004

BY GAVIN GOMEZ AND K. SUTHAKAR

KUALA BERANG: Tempers flared as campaign workers from the rival parties tried to stake choice sites to plant their flags and banners at the Kuala Berang bridge in the wee hours of the morning. 

The police quickly stepped in and dispersed the crowd about 3am, after an hour-long standoff between the workers from the Barisan Nasional and PAS. 

The incident reflected the tone of the campaigning which has started to reach a feverish pitch ahead of the by-election on Aug 28. 

The state seat fell vacant following the death of state assemblyman Komaruddin Abdul Rahman. Barisan’s Mohd Zawawi Ismail and Muhyiddin Abdul Rashid of PAS are facing each other in the country’s first by-election since the March polls. 

Both parties see the bridge as a strategic spot and Barisan was keen to have a sea of party banners and flags to greet Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday. 

There was no untoward incident and Najib had a fruitful time during his first visit to the constituency.  

He stopped at various fruit stalls that lined the road after the bridge to meet the vendors and some of the voters. 

Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who is also the state Barisan chief, advised both parties not to get too emotional and, instead, take the by-election as a festive occasion. 

“That is why we call it a pilihanraya,” emphasising on raya which connotes a celebration of the masses.  

Barisan’s by-election co-ordination committee chairman, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, said it was fine to engage in a war of words and a poster war as long as the battle did not get physical. 

PAS by-election director Datuk Harun Taib said he was grateful that the police had stepped in and gave the right to both parties to put up their posters and flags along the bridge. 

During his day-long visit Najib opened a health clinic at Kampung Sungai Ular and performed Friday prayers at the Kuala Berang mosque, before visiting the polling stations. He is due to return here tomorrow.  

In Petaling Jaya, PAS has demanded that the Election Commission replace the returning officer Idris Che Mat.  

Party vice-president Datuk Mustafa Ali said Idris, who is also the Hulu Terengganu district officer, had acted arrogantly and unprofessionally on nomination day and had failed to inspire confidence among the people.  

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