PERAK, MALAYSIA — Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, president of United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) is facing uncertainty in defending his seat at the Bagan Datuk constituency in Perak, as voters affected by flood said that they have “no mood” to come out on polling day on Saturday (19 Nov) for Malaysia 15th General Election (GE15).
Dr Ahmad Zahid as Barisan National (BN) chairman leads the political coalition contesting 178 parliamentary seats in GE15.
Before the Malaysian parliament dissolved last month, Zahid had advocated for an early election, saying that BN had no issue campaigning even during monsoon, and mocked the opposition parties who had opposed a monsoon election for being worried about losing in the GE.
According to Malaysia news portal Free Malaysia Today, voters in Bagan Datuk have been affected by floods with continuous heavy rainfall due to the northeasterly monsoon.
The portal predicts a low voter turnout in this constituency on polling day today.
Finas Muhammad, one of the villager of Jalan Rungkup Simpang Tiga Selekoh, said that villagers are more concerned with the rising water levels than who should be their representative.
The 28-year-old villager whose house has been flooded for the past three days, said: “It is better to think of ways to save ourselves and our belongings.”
Another Bagan Datuk voter, Jamil Abdullah criticised that the candidates should focus on helping flood victims instead of fishing for votes, “But to date, no help has arrived and we, the small farmers, need help.”
Some flood victims are stranded at home
Flood victim Tutik Senan said she and her husband are stranded at home, now living off their savings and the food she had until flood waters recede. Her husband could not go to work in the meantime.
“So, in such times where it is difficult to leave the village, I could not be bothered to go out to vote.”
While 31-year-old Syikin Jamalaudin was eager to vote, she said the floods had put a damper on the election, “It’s their loss when voters don’t come out because of the floods.”
Some flood victims also shared their dire situation on Tik Tok, showing flood water around their houses and neighbourhood:
Anwar welcomed by 2 thousand people in Zahid’s stronghold
69-year-old Zahid has been MP for Bagan Datuk for six terms since 1995, and he faces a four-cornered fight against candidates from Perikatan National, Pakatan Harapan and an independent candidate to defend his seat in GE15.
According to Malaysia Election Commission(EC) website, there are 58,183 eligible voters to cast their votes in Bagan Datuk seat. Zahid won 18,909 votes with a 5,073 majority in GE14, against PKR candidate Pakhrurrazi Hj Arshad.
Although Zahid held the seat for nearly three decades, the BN stronghold could be at risk, as candidates from PH and PN have gained momentum on the ground.
On 14 November, over 2,000 Bagan Datuk people gathered to watch Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stump for PH candidate, Datuk Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin.
Dr Ahmad Zahid had previously called the current election as the “Mother of all Election”, and warned his BN component parties that they must win GE15 dominantly, or face more political prosecution.
He had recently been acquitted of all 40 graft charges against him in Foreign Visa System (VLN) case; but he is still facing other 47 charges of criminal breach of trust, graft and money laundering in the Yayasan Akalbudi case.