By Nor Baizura Basri
PONTIAN, Nov 9 -- The Tanjung Piai by-election campaign has been going on for seven days and is entering the second round today for the contesting six candidates who are expected to use whatever techniques and secret weapons they have or possess to win the hearts of voters in the parliamentary constituency.
With only seven more days to polling, all the candidates, together with their respective election machinery, are certain to have drawn up their own strategy to overcome the weaknesses and shortcomings they encountered over the past one week.
For Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Karmaine Sardini, his walkabout session, which starts as early as 7 am and ends until the late hours with his “ceramah” (political talk) everyday, has helped to realise his aim of meeting about 10,000 people in the constituency everyday.
“Over the past seven days, I have been to all district polling centres (PDM), meeting the machinery and local residents. My focus next is to meet the constituents from house to house,” he added.
Karmaine, 66, said it is crucial to maintain PH’s win in the 10 PDMs which it won in the last general election, while trying to get more votes in the remaining 17 PDMs which are considered the opposition’s strongholds, to retain the Tanjung Piai seat.
In this by-election, the 10 PDMs comprise 26,485 voters or 49.98 per cent of the total voters in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary constituency, which is 52,986 people.
In the 14th General Election (GE14), PH candidate and incumbent Tanjung Piai Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik obtained 21,255 votes, which was higher by 524 votes than what was garnered by Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, of Barisan Nasional (BN).
Dr Wee secured 20,73 , while another contender, Nordin Othman (PAS), obtained 2,962 votes.
For Karmaine, the Tanjung Piai Bersatu chief who lost in the contest for the Pontian parliamentary seat in the last general election, the first seven days of the campaign saw him going to the ground regularly for the walkabout session, where he was able to meet face to face with the constituents, hence, giving his campaign a personal touch.
On the first day of campaign, PH president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail went to the ground and met the party machinery to boost their spirit.
Apart from that, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal, who was appointed as the Director of PH Machinery for the by-election, and PH deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Bersatu president, are often in Pontian to meet the locals.
Besides Karmaine, other contestants in the Tanjung Piai by-election are Wee (BN), Wendy Subramaniam (Gerakan), Datuk Dr Badrulhisham Abdul Aziz (Barisan Jemaah Islamiah Se-Malaysia - Berjasa) and two Independent candidates Dr Ang Chuan Lok and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar.
For Wee, 55, the past seven days have also been hectic, where he tried to meet as many of the constituents as possible, and will continue to do so until polling.
As for Wendy, 38, who is a lawyer, she said she had met about 40 percent of the voters and will be more aggressive in her campaign.
Berjasa candidate Badrulhisham, 56, is also using the walkabout session to meet voters in the constituency.
Out of the six candidates for the by-election, only the Gerakan and Berjasa candidates have issued their own manifesto, while the two Independent candidates seem not to be shaken by the other contenders as they do not seem to be serious in their campaign.
Ang, 49, who is the founder of a tuition center in the Pontian district, has announced that he would focus on using Facebook to convey his message, and so far, there is no manifesto seen on the Facebook page, except for several pictures of him shaking hands with voters.
For Faridah, 45, who is contesting on behalf of Gabungan Teksi SeMalaysia (GTSM), she appeared for the first time for the campaign last night.
There is also a war of flags with the main parties contesting putting up their party colours at every places possible in a show of strength. Red is the colour for PH, BN (blue) and Berjasa (green).
So far, the campaign is going smoothly.
As of Nov 6, the Election Commission (EC) has recorded 37 election offences, mostly involving the installation of campaign materials and billboards in unauthorised areas, while the police have received nine reports and investigation papers have been opened for three of them.
Polling for the Tanjung Piai by-election is on Nov 16. The by-election is the ninth held since the last general election.