KOTA BARU: The survival of the PAS government in Kelantan has now come into focus following the death of Pengakalan Pasir Assemblyman Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Jaafar on Monday.
Although PAS holds a majority of two seats even with his death, politicians from both sides agree that it will be very difficult for the party to continue ruling the state if it loses in the soon-to-be-called by-election. PAS now has 23 seats and Barisan Nasional 21.
Wan Abdul Aziz, who died of cancer, won his seat in the general election two years ago with a 55-vote majority over Barisan's Hanafi Mamat.
Speculation is rife here that the by-election will be held between the last week of this month and early next month, taking into account the year-end school examinations and the monsoon season.
Wan Abdul Aziz’s daughter Wan Noor Ezreen Abdul Aziz, 28, looking at a photograph of him and her mother Kamariah Jaafar at their home on Tuesday.
The political zest that has been the hallmark of Kelantan has been missing since the general election after PAS and Barisan reached an unofficial ceasefire to ensure the development of the state.
However, this peace is expected to be broken by the by-election if the remarks by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is anything to go by.
After paying his last respects at Wan Abdul Aziz's home, he claimed that it would be a “dirty” by-election, as “the Barisan Nasional will resort to underhand tactics to try to win”.
Nevertheless, PAS is confident of defending it as the area has been a stronghold since 1990. Furthermore, the party had won three by-elections in Kelantan, Hadi said.
However, state Umno chairman Datuk Seri Annuar Musa dedline to respond to Hadi's remarks, preferring to say that it was close to Hari Raya and the party would respect the occasion. It would also organise tahlil prayers for Wan Abdul Aziz, he added.
The Pengkalan Pasir constituency is on the fringe of Pasir Mas town, the second-biggest town in the state after Kota Baru, with about 14,000 voters.
State Speaker Wan Abd Rahim Wan Abdullah said he would write to the Election Commission (EC) after Hari Raya to notify it of the state assemblyman’s death.