Candidates race to reach out to 100 villages in Ayer Hitam

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 03 May 2018

Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (right) greeting market traders at a morning market in Ayer Hitam on Thursday.

YONG PENG: He knows every one of the 100 villages in his constituency by heart after being there for the last 15 years.

Three-term Barisan Nasional Ayer Hitam MP Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong not only has a good memory, but the people in his constituency and him have become like one big family.

"We are together during good times and challenging times," he said, in stark contrast to his Pakatan Harapan's opponent Liew Chin Tong, who started moving around only a month ago after setting eyes on Ayer Hitam for GE14.

Ayer Hitam has 46,157 voters spread out over a vast area.

"Travelling time between one end to another end of the constituency takes at least one hour and 30 minutes," Dr Wee said, explaining the challenge of reaching out to the 95 Malay villages and five Chinese new villages there.

But the crucial factor is how Liew, a new face in the constituency, is finding it hard to make inroads especially into the 95 villages where the majority of the 26,623 Malay voters are.

This, Dr Wee said, has confounded Liew's hope of a Malay tsunami there to carry him to victory.

With another five days of campaigning, feedback has been that Liew has difficulties reaching out to the Malay voters.

While Dr Wee is always there for his constituents, he also has a very effective state assemblyman under Ayer Hitam, Datuk Samsol Bari Jamali, the three-term Semarang assemblyman, and also the Johor Barisan information chief.

Of the Malay voters, 18,327 are from Semarang.

The other state seat under Ayer Hitam is Yong Peng, where Barisan's candidate and new face, 34-year-old Ling Tian Soon, is contesting.

Four out of the five Chinese new villages in the Ayer Hitam seat are in the Yong Peng area.

In the last eight years, Ling who is the special assistant to Dr Wee, has been a vital link between Dr Wee, Samsol and the constituents.

Known to the locals as Ah Soon, Ling is there to help the people in times of need, including bringing the elderly to seek medical treatment.

"Many of our elderly folk in Yong Peng have children working far away, especially in Singapore.

"Besides helping the elderly, I also want the younger people to have peace of mind when away at work," said Ling, whose enthusiasm in helping the people, including promoting eateries in Yong Peng on social media, has earned him a place in the hearts of the locals.

Dr Wee is Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and one of his portfolios is on new village development. This has endeared him to many new villagers in the last four years.

With another five days of campaigning before polling on May 9, the candidates have moved to "top gear" to comb each and every village and housing estate.

Dr Wee said he has at least 20 events lined up on May 7.

He also chided Liew for resorting to tactics to create a rift between him and the Malay voters.

Citing examples, Dr Wee showed a video of Liew asking officers from the Election Commission (EC) to cut out the photo of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad from a Pakatan Harapan billboard, where the former premier was flanked by Liew and Pakatan Harapan's incumbent Yong Peng assemblyman Chew Peck Choo.

Liew was heard telling the EC officers not to cut out other pictures, but only that of Dr Mahathir.

"But Chin Tong has accused me of asking to cut out Tun Mahathir's picture," Dr Wee said.

On the billboard war, Dr Wee said photoshopped pictures to mock Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were also among Pakatan Harapan's tactics on a billboard saying: "A vote for me is a vote for Najib and Rosmah."

In this case, Dr Wee pointed out that it was Pakatan Harapan which had flouted the billboard ruling set by the EC, and it was the EC which took down the billboard on their own accord.

"I am perfectly happy with billboards saying a vote for Wee Ka Siong is a vote for Najib Tun Razak and a vote for Barisan. This is a fact," he said.

Ayer Hitam is seeing a three-cornered fight between Dr Wee, Liew and Mardi Marwan from PAS.

Semarang is a contest between Samsol Bari, Pakatan Harapan's Zais Mohd Akil and Mohd Bakri Samian from PAS.

Pakatan Harapan's incumbent assemblyman Chew is defending her Yong Peng seat from Ling and PAS' Muhammad Abdullah.

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