IPOH, Jan 26: Deposed Pakatan Rakyat Mentri Besar for Perak Nizar Jamaluddin said his PAS party still had minimum 40 percent support from the Malay electorate in the state, dismissing speculation that the coalition might lose in the event of snap elections.
“We are very confident of a clear and decisive victory and that’s why we intend to call for snap elections the moment we can do so. Unlike Umno, which is why they dare not call for fresh polls,” Nizar told Harakahdaily.
Latest in-house surveys by PAS showed little change in Malay sentiment towards the party, although polls conducted by the Merdeka Centre and Universiti Malaya suggest it may have lost 7 to 8 percent of the electorate.
“We respect their views but we also have faith in our own research,” said Nizar, the Pasir Panjang assemblyman, who is also MP for Bukit Gantang.
The former tin-mining state has a mixed population of more than 2 million, of which 54 percent or 1.1 million are Malay, 32 percent are Chinese, 12 percent Indian and the rest other races.
If PAS can maintain its support base of 40 percent of the Malay voters, then its chances of re-taking the state government is very bright. Already, pundits expect the Pakatan - which also consists of the multi-racial DAP and PKR - to sweep the mixed constituencies, where non-Malays form a high proportion of the population.
Raising living standards in rural Malay areas
According to him, Pakatan will soon be unveiling plans to lift from poverty the large pockets of rural Malay areas dotting Perak, and also introduce programs to inject modern facilities and infrastructure so that they could catch up with the urban parts of the state.
“Many of these place like Larut and Trong look like they are still in the pre-Independence era. They were completely sidelined and ignored by the Umno-BN in the state’s development plans," the 52-year old leader said.
“We intend to correct this by re-distributing the resources of the state in a more equitable and effective way, firstly by plugging leakage due to corruption.”
In the urban towns, where the population is mostly non-Malay, the Pakatan will announce business-friendly strategies to give all an equal chance to succeed.
"We will implement a new dimension, it will be a paradigm shift. No more stale investment strategies, no more corrupt ways of doing things," Nizar said.
"Those who doubt our ability to bring progress need only to look at the success and ingenuity of our land titles program. We are serious professionals who can get the job done well. If we had been allowed to continue, by now, we would have finished the target of giving out 150,000 titles to the poor and the homeless."
Pakatan will not sit and shake legs
Nizar was the Mentri Besar before a coup d’etat engineered by Prime Minister Najib Razak toppled the Pakatan state government in February 2009.
His lawsuit challenging the legaility of Umno-BN leader Zambry Kadir as his successor will be decided by the Federal Court on February 9.
But even if he is not reinstated by the court, Nizar said the Pakatan would still go full steam with its rural redevelopment plan.
“If I win the court case, I would still call for snap election. If Pakatan loses the election, we would still find ways to co-ordinate with the private sector to fund the programs,” he stressed.
“Right now, we have 28 assemblymen and we are not going to sit and shake legs. Win or lose, we have to work and our work is to service our constituents and look for ideas and ways to bring them the change and development that they wish for.”
Confident provided ...
Currently, Pakatan has the same number of 28 seats as Umno-BN. However, there are also three Independents - whose status is still being challenged in the courts - who have declared allegiance with the BN.
Nizar also expressed optimism about his chances with the Federal Court, despite widespread concern that he may not be able to get a fair verdict given the judiciary's track record of bowing to political pressure from the ruling elite.
“Morally and legally, we are in the right. So I am extremely confident that I can win the court case,” he said.
“The problem is there may be other factors involved. So we have to pray for God’s guidance and that the judges will all be guided by good conscience, good faith and wisdom.”