Monday, December 15, 2008

Monsoon Cup, Oil Royalty, KT Campaign, Malaysiakini

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — Fresh from his recent pilgrimage to Mecca, Pas president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang will kick off his party's campaign for next month's crucial Kuala Terengganu by-election this weekend in which he is expected to attack Barisan Nasional over the oil royalty issue and the staging of the annual Monsoon Cup sailing event, which has been called a waste of public funds.

He will rally the party faithful at three separate gatherings on Friday to outline the main plank of his party's campaign. But he will not announce who the candidate will be. That announcement is being slated for Jan 1.

Besides the oil royalty and Monsoon Cup, Hadi will also focus on attacking the BN state government's recent budget in the by-election which has been called following the death of BN's Datuk Razali Ismail.

The by-election has become crucial, considering it is the first big test for Datuk Seri Najib Razak since a deal was hammered out to ensure he takes over the Umno presidency in March. The Pakatan Rakyat parties are also keen to show they are not a spent force.

Hadi's aide Zaihan Mohd Daud told The Malaysian Insider that the Marang MP will visit all the state constituencies in Kuala Terengganu on Friday and Sunday.

"If there are no changes, the candidate will be announced on Jan 1," said Zaihan.

The Islamist party's machinery is also preparing to house thousands of party workers and volunteers who will come to Kuala Terengganu during the campaign period.

"Most of the hotels and chalets here are fully booked, so some of them will have to stay in the mosque," said Rusila mosque chairman Omar Mohd.

The mosque, situated some 15km from Kuala Terengganu, is one of Pas's major service centres in the state where Hadi delivers religious talks every week.

Meanwhile Pas's Bukit Payong assemblyman Mohd Noor Hamzah said the party's campaign will focus on the oil royalty and the Monsoon Cup.

"Now they are calling it royalty; when Pas was running the state they said it was 'wang ehsan' and refused to channel the money to the state government," Mohd Noor told The Malaysian Insider.

Last weekend Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak handed over RM408.6 million in oil royalty to Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said, a move seen by many observers as motivated by the January by-election.

"In a way the handing over of the royalty is a victory for us, but the way they have been spending the money will also shape our campaign strategy. The Monsoon Cup is one of things we are going to focus on," said Mohd Noor, referring to the annual sporting event which costs the state government RM300 million every year.

Wakaf Mempelam assemblyman Abdul Wahid Endut also expressed similar views.

"They have always been tabling a balanced budget; whatever they get they will spend, and the spending doesn't benefit the people," said Abdul Wahid.

The state government yesterday tabled a balanced budget of RM1.799 billion for the year 2009, claiming the huge budget was to ensure the government can implement high-impact projects and programmes for the people.

"Every year thousands of people are affected by floods, so they should be looking at monsoon drains not the Monsoon Cup,".

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