The battle flags are fluttering in Malaysia's northern Kelantan state, as the federal government campaigns to dislodge fundamentalist Islamic leaders from their last stronghold in March elections.
The hotly contested district of Pasir Mas near the beaches of the state capital Kota Bharu has been festooned with hundreds of blue government banners which face a sea of green flags for the Pan-Malaysia Islamic Party (PAS).
Coffee shops are abuzz with talk of the fight for the hearts and minds of Malay voters in March 8 general elections in which the Barisan Nasional coalition is intent on claiming the only state left in opposition hands.
A victory would be a huge morale boost for Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) leads the coalition which is expecting to lose some of its majority in federal parliament.
"The coming election will really see whether Malays have lost faith in PAS's religious and development agenda or whether they think UMNO will make a better alternative," says political analyst Shahrudin Badarudin.
"Either way, it is going to be a tough call in Kelantan as the battle between religion and development continues," he says.
While the Barisan Nastional is dangling billions of dollars in development projects, PAS is offering its own brand of pious values and sedate economic growth in the state which is dominated by Muslim Malays.
Currently, PAS holds Kelantan by just a one-seat majority and the vote will be keenly watched as an indicator of the appetite for fundamentalist Islam in Malaysia, which is also home to large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.
Access to this article is through HERE
Awang Adek Promises Victory For BN In Kelantan: Incumbent Bachok Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin, who has been entrusted to lead the Kelantan Barisan Nasional (BN) machinery for the March 8 general election, regards it as a duty for him to ensure victory for the coalition.Touched by the trust and confidence placed in him, he promised to deliver and put an end to PAS' 18-year rule in the state.This, he said, would be possible with the choice of candidates fielded by BN in Kelantan.
ELECTION 2008: Awang Adek promises RM1 billion Federal aid for Kelantan if BN wins state - Kelantan might get up to RM1 billion in allocation from the federal government if Barisan Nasional wins the state in the general election. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin, who could be the next Menteri Besar if this happens, said he had brought up the matter to the Prime Minister.
Feb 23, 2008:
ELECTION 2008: Two 'reluctant' candidates in Kelantan BN - Changes to the Kelantan Barisan Nasional line-up are a possibility until nominations close tomorrow, after it emerged that at least two "reluctant" candidates were among the 59 picked. Although the party had confirmed the candidacy of academician Dr Abdullah Sudin and Datuk Abdul Halim Ahmad in the Pengkalan Chepa and Pasir Mas parliamentary constituencies, party sources said the two did not want to contest.
Dua calon BN Kelantan tarik diri petanda BN tidak diyakini – Husam: Dua calon Barisan Nasional (BN) yang diumumkan Pengerusi BN Kelantan, Dato' Seri Annuar Musa semalam menarik diri dari bertanding pada pilihan raya umum kali ini, kata Naib Presiden PAS, Dato' Husam Musa. Dalam satu sidang medianya di Global Media dekat sini hari ini Husam berkata, beliau mendapat maklumat yang boleh dipercayai, calon BN di Parlimen Pengkalan Chepa, Profesor Madya Dr Abdullah Sudin dan calon Pasir Mas, Dato' Abdul Halim Ahmad menarik diri. "Ini adalah satu petanda yang menunjukkan keyakian rakyat terhadap BN di Kelantan sangat rendah," kata Husam yang akan bertanding di Dun Salor setelah berpindah dari Dun Kijang. Beliau juga melihat pengurusan penyenaraian calon BN di Kelantan ini tidak kemas. "Bila berlaku penarikan diri ini ia satu 'set back' menunjukkan calon tidak ada kepercayaan kepada BN atau yakin kepada BN,"ujarnya lagi.
ELECTION 2008: Two Kelantan BN candidates pull out, coalition forced to do minor reshuffle: Barely a day before nominations for the 12th general election, two candidates pulled out from the Kelantan Barisan Nasional list, causing a minor reshuffle in the line-up. The last-minute changes were due to the reluctance of Datuk Abdul Halim Ahmad and Dr Abdullah Sudin Abdul Rahman to stand in the Pasir Mas and Pengkalan Chepa parliamentary seats respectively.State BN and Umno chairman Datuk Seri Annuar Musa said the Pasir Mas seat would now be contested by the division’s Umno youth chief, Rosdi Mahamad, who was earlier slated for the Chetok state seat.He said Pasir Mas division chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Abdul Rahman, who was not on the list, would stand in Chetok while Pengkalan Chepa Umno division vice-chief Rahim Othman would contest in place of Abdullah Sudin.
Feb 29, 2008:
PM OFFERS THE BEST DEVELOPMENT TO KELANTAN: BACHOK, Feb 29 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the Barisan Nasional (BN) has the capacity to make the best offer including the best development in the history of Kelantan and it is now up to its people to make the right choice in the general election. He said as the Prime Minister, he was sincere in wanting to see Kelantan, which has various potentials, develop and be on par with the other states under BN rule. "I personally want Kelantan to be a developed state, but we want the development to be implemented together with a government which shares the same views and ideology as ours (federal government)," he said in his address at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) Campus in Bachok, Tangok, here today. He said the federal government had no ulterior motive in the efforts to assist Kelantan except to see that the state was more developed than it was now. "What the Kelantan people had for the past 18 years...I believe the Kelantan people themselves know better," he said at the function attended by more than 10,000 people in the state.