BENTONG, Oct 3 — Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Pelangai by-election Datuk Amizar Abu Adam sat in a shack by the side of a main road consisting of two lanes running in opposite directions, after an hour-long door-to-door event at Kampung Lembah Jaya on a motorcycle.
He had just consumed a meal of curry mee and rambutans when he told Malay Mail that the unity government has elevated BN further in the district even though voters there had already accepted him as best as can be expected.
“This is one of BN’s strongholds here in Pahang,” he said.
Pelangai is a town 649 square kilometres in size, with a population of 14,431 people, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s (DOSM) Kawasanku portal.
The Pelangai state seat has been held by BN since 1986.
Amizar, who is also a Bentong Umno committee member, said that despite Islamic practices leading him to leave victory of the Pelangai state seat up to Allah, he also feels that his actions must instil confidence.
He had led a convoy of around 10 motorcycles with both riders and passengers through the nearby village as he visited six houses, where he received warm welcomes from surprised residents.
Although he arrived in a pickup truck, he had handled his motorcycle with ease, even with a pillion rider seated behind him.
Datuk Amizar Abu Adam speaks to Malay Mail at Kampung Lembah Jaya, Pelangai in Pahang on October 1, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Along the quiet rural roads were plantations: durians, palm oil, guava and papaya. Many streets lacked street lamps.
Afterwards, around 25 Umno grassroots of all ages accompanied him in the shack, joking and laughing together as they sipped on sirap bandung ais.
When asked about independent candidate Haslihelmy DM Zulhasli, who was sacked from Umno following his decision to contest the Pelangai seat, Amizar replied that Malaysia is a democratic country.
“It is up to anyone, as long as they are qualified to contest in any election, then please do so.
“This is a democratic country. We will not stop the democratic system and the government’s democracy.
“It is up to people if they want to contest,” he said.
There were banners and flags all around Pelangai with Amizar’s face on them, along with the BN slogan “kestabilan dan kemakmuran” (stability and peace) as well as Amizar’s motto of “tiada janji, lihat bukti” (no promises, just look at the evidence).
The trail of banners and flags began as far away as Bentong, which was more than 60km away from Pelangai, along streets littered with durian stalls amid the afternoon heat.
The BN symbols competed with those of Perikatan Nasional (PN), who was fielding the same candidate who had contested for the seat previously.
Datuk Amizar Abu Adam after the door-to-door at Kampung Lembah Jaya, Pelangai in Pahang on October 1, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara.
In Pelangai that Sunday afternoon, the only shops open for business were those that sold food or necessities. Otherwise, the view along the streets in the small town’s central business district were of shuttered shops.
There, sightings of older Proton cars such as the Waja, Wira and Saga models were common, kicking dust off the road with each rev.
Amizar will be facing a three-cornered fight in Pelangai this Saturday against former Umno member Haslihelmy and PAS’ Kasim Samat, a teacher.
Pelangai is the first by-election in Pahang after its state election, which was held concurrently with the 15th general election on November 19 last year.
It was called following the death of its incumbent Datuk Seri Johari Harun, 53, from Umno in an air crash in Shah Alam, Selangor on August 17.
In the 15th general election, Johari who represented BN, won with a 4,048-vote majority to defeat Kasim, Ahmed Wafiuddin of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Pejuang candidate Isa Ahmad.
Johari’s predecessor, Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, held the Pelangai state seat from 1986 to 2022 and was the Pahang menteri besar from 1999 to 2018.
The composition of Pahang state assembly seats after GE15 saw BN and Perikatan Nasional each having 17 seats while PH won eight seats.
The Pahang government was formed after BN and PH teamed up at the state level, to reflect the cooperation at the federal level.
Datuk Amizar Abu Adam canvasses for votes at Kampung Lembah Jaya, Pelangai in Pahang on October 1, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara