KUANTAN: In the last hurrah before polling day on Saturday (Nov 19), candidates for the Indera Mahkota parliamentary seat are rushing to convince voters that they can bring progress and positive change constituents are demanding.
Both Barisan Nasional's Datuk Quek Tai Seong and Pakatan Harapan's Zuraidi Ismail are of the view that most constituents they met wanted to see change.
"I am very sad to see the state of the villages here in Indera Mahkota. There are so many local issues that have not been addressed," Quek said during a site visit to a one-lane bridge in Balok Makmur, which had not been upgraded in 15 years, causing congestion in the area.
"It's not supposed to be like this. Indera Mahkota is a big township. We have a good port and the MCKIP (Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park) is great. The Gebeng industrial area is here too.
"But the villages have not been taken care of. That is why the kampung folk want change.
"I have never seen the incumbent MP bring up local issues in Parliament. Remember, he's not local. I will do better for the people," said Quek here on Wednesday (Nov 16).
With three days to go, Quek said he had been received positively but predicted his chances were "still 50-50".
"But by working hard and getting my message out to voters, I hope I will win their votes. These three days are crucial.
"Barisan has a stronghold in Pahang... people can see our track record and hopefully, give me the mandate to bring change to them," said the Kelantan-born Quek, who is dubbed "Mat Quek" by locals.
"I may not have been born here but I've lived here for 23 years. My wife is from here and my children go to school here. So, I am local.
"I mix well with everyone here, regardless of race. They call me Mat Quek, maybe because I speak Malay well," he said.
Quek is contesting against the incumbent Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah from Perikatan Nasional, Zuraidi and Pejuang candidate Dr Mohamad Nor Sundari.
Meanwhile, Zuraidi said his clear advantage was that he had been advocating for the community in Indera Mahkota since 2014, even before he entered politics.
"I started as a community activist in 2014 and since then I have been on the ground all the time – every week in fact. But I realised that to make a change, being in politics is the only way.
"Even after the Pakatan government was toppled in 2020, we never stopped our work on the ground. In fact, I was asked to build confidence in our party again among our members and supporters after the Sheraton Move.
"I went all over the constituency, assuring constituents and our own members not to give up on us. Then, we just continued doing our community work on the ground and we have not stopped," he said.
In the last leg of the campaign period, he hoped to convince Malay voters – especially young voters – to trust Pakatan to bring them change and progress.
"The response has been good. The non-Malay community, the Chinese especially, are behind us. They are eager for change and are behind us. For them, Saifuddin has done something not right by leaving the party.
"But we haven't gotten as good a reception... we are hoping for another 5% support from the Malays and we are hoping to get this from the young voters.
"Indera Mahkota has 126,000 voters, of which 48,000 are new voters. Out of these, 38,000 are 40 years old and below. They are our target," he said.
Despite his competitors' confidence that change was what the voters demanded, Saifuddin on Monday (Nov 14) said that Perikatan was confident of winning two more parliamentary seats – one from Pakatan and one from Barisan as well as eight more state seats.
He said that through its national and state manifestos, Perikatan was addressing what the people really want and that they were "tired of dirty politics".