TANJUNG PIAI: The race to reach out to the Tanjung Piai voters has to go beyond the parliamentary constituency.
At least 20% of the young people are working in Singapore, and this does not include those working in Johor Baru and Kuala Lumpur.
This predominantly rural constituency of 53,528 voters comprising 57% Malays, 42% Chinese and 1% Indians, has very few job opportunities for the youth.
As for those who stay on, they are mostly in the agricultural and fishing sector and small businesses to cater for the locals.
“Kita orang kampung. (We are villagers), ” said Ahmad Tapah, 74, from Kampung Peradin here.
A fisherman since 1965, Ahmad went on to raise five children and is now a grandfather of 13.
He may have retired but he listed the welfare of fishermen as among his topics of concern. According to him, they have lost the allowance from the government.
This, he said, was compounded by the dwindling catch and there were days they returned empty handed.
“The villagers are facing hard times, ” he said adding that there were many fishermen in his village.
Meanwhile a 53-year-old widow from Teluk Kerang here, who only wanted to be known as Wong, said her children in their 20s could not find a job.
Her 27-year-old son, eldest of three, is a factory worker in Singapore. He was a lorry attendant after completing his SPM exam, and only went to work in Singapore about four years ago.
“My son pays RM180 a month for a twin sharing room in Johor Baru and commutes to work using a motorbike daily, starting his journey at 5am
“It is too far for him to stay at home while staying in Singapore is too costly, ” she said, adding that her son, an eligible voter, returns home once week. Her two daughters work in Johor Baru.
She said the rising cost of living is a cause for concern these days.
An oil palm smallholder Goh Wee Liong, said the prolonged low palm oil price is giving the community hard times.
At 56, and a smallholder since 1984, he said there was hardly any income for over a year, and losses were incurred due to rising cost of fertilisers and weedkillers.
“I have to spend about RM100 daily to take care of my family of six, ” said Goh, whose family includes his wife, 81-year-old mother and three children aged five to 12.With nomination today, and polling on Nov 16, the high cost of living and low commodity prices are set to be points of contention that can tilt the votes.
While the Pakatan Harapan government has an edge – a ruling coalition can make things happen – it also has to contend with the fact that it has an uphill task to convince the voters to give it another mandate.
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