KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 (Bernama) -- The Kuala Besut state by-election on July 24 is attracting greater attention, primarily for one major reason.
An opposition victory will result in a hung state assembly because the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and the opposition will have 16 seats each in the 32-seat state assembly.
After the general election on May 5, the BN formed the state government with the 17 seats it had won. PAS had won 14 seats and PKR, one.
The by-election has been necessitated by the death of assemblyman Dr A. Rahman Mokhtar of the BN on June 26.
Political analyst Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali said the constituents of Kuala Besut must understand the scenario of a hung state assembly and its implications.
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A hung state assembly would create history, nevertheless, but would also raise uncertainty in terms of the state administration and have an effect on the people of Terengganu in general, he said.
He said the result would be an unstable state government, which would also have an effect on the state's economic, social, political and developmental status.
"An unstable government will be unable to implement policies for the benefit of the people, for example in terms of development. It will not have the support of the majority of the assemblymen," he told Bernama.
In view of the possible scenario, the BN has to work hard to defend the seat and maintain the status quo in the state assembly. PAS is expected to pose a strong challenge.
The BN has named a 37-year-old civil engineer, Tengku Zaihan Che Ku Abdul Rahman, as its candidate while PAS is to field a contractor, Endut alias Azlan Yusof, 48. Nomination for the by-election is tomorrow.
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What are the chances of victory of these two parties in a by-election that is likely to see a straight fight?
Che Hamdan, who is a senior lecturer in political science at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Dungun, Terengganu, said the candidate would be a major factor in the by-election.
He said that besides the candidate, the BN also had an advantage in terms of two other factors - Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, who is the Besut Umno Division chief, and the work of the late assemblyman Dr Rahman.
"Idris had been the menteri besar of Terengganu and had done a lot for the state, including Kuala Besut. He still has a great deal of influence in Besut," he said.
Kuala Besut is one of the four state constituencies in the Besut parliamentary constituency. Idris is the MP for Besut. The three other state constituencies are Kota Putera, Jertih and Hulu Besut.
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Che Hamdan said the contributions of Dr Rahman to tourism and development could not be denied because his efforts had turned the area into a tourist attraction for Terengganu.
Kuala Besut has grown from a small fishing village in northern Terengganu into an important town drawing tourists headed for Pulau Perhentian.
Both the BN and PAS are to field new faces from Kuala Besut to garner the votes.
Kuala Besut has 17,679 voters, 27.94 per cent of whom are aged 21 to 29; 27.36 per cent (30 to 39), 19.34 per cent (40 to 49), 12.86 per cent (50 to 59) and 12.49 per cent (60 and above).
Some 93.33 per cent are ordinary voters; 6.67 per cent military and police personnel and their spouses and one overseas voter. In terms of racial breakdown, Malays make up 98.71 per cent; Chinese (0.80 per cent), Indians (0.08 per cent) and others (0.41 per cent).
In the last general election, Dr Rahman beat Napisah Ismail of PAS by a majority of 2,434 votes. The voter turnout was 87 per cent.
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