THE red Bersatu flag, bearing the national flower symbol, greets visitors to Langkawi’s picturesque Cenang beach.
Supporters boldly show allegiance to the party chaired by Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which they believe will wrest control of the island from Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Barisan Nasional coalition in the next general election.
“Mahathir is our hero. Without him, what is Langkawi? Najib can take a walk,” said the owner of a water sports equipment rental business on Cenang beach.
Bersatu leaders are fully aware of the “Mahathir advantage”.
Pulau Tuba and Bukit Malut, which have about 3,000 and 10,000 voters, respectively, have long been Umno’s “fixed deposits”.
“Tun Mahathir is the reason for our confidence in Langkawi. Our success in winnng over Pulau Tuba and Bukit Malut signals victory to come,” said Langkawi Bersatu Armada chief Firdaus Ahmad.
Najib is expected to visit Langkawi on August 19 to officiate a public event as well as to attend the Umno Langkawi annual general meeting.
The programme for meet-the-people session includes a lucky draw with prizes such as a house, a car, a motorcycle, bicycles, handphones, drones and electrical appliances worth a whopping RM1.5 million to entice the people of Langkawi to attend.
Najib’s appearance in Langkawi, which rarely gets such attention from Umno leaders, is telling. Bersatu is posing a real threat to the ruling party in GE14, which must be called within the next 12 months.
In the last election, the PKR candidate for the Langkawi parliamentary seat managed only seven votes out of 1,800 on Pulau Tuba, with the remainder going to Umno.
It was the same in Bukit Malut, a settlement of Rohingya who were granted citizenship by the government some years back.
“Judging by the response to our programmes on Pulau Tuba, we are confident that 50% of the people there will vote for Pakatan Harapan, “ said Firdaus.
Bersatu had also helped to register 800 voters in the area.
Many locals credit the development of Langkawi from a backwater fishing village into one of the region’s most well-known tourist locations to Dr Mahathir.
“We will continue to support Tun (Dr Mahathir). That’s what the voters, especially the older generation, say on Pulau Tuba,” said Firdaus.
Langkawi Amanah treasurer Abdul Rahman Jamaludin said in the past, PAS representatives had tried and failed to win over the the folk of Bukit Malut and Pulau Tuba.
Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, who was representing PAS back then, was once prevented from getting to Pulau Tuba, where he was to speak at an event, by residents using nets, said Rahman.
“Now with Dr Mahathir and Bersatu, we can penetrate these areas,” he said.
Langkawi Bersatu treasurer Nur Shafilla Mohamad Fauzi believed that victory was assured should Dr Mahathir run for the Langkawi seat.
“We certainly hope he will. He is our preferred candidate, and we really want him to lead Langkawi Bersatu,” she said.
“We want Dr Mahathir to lead Langkawi.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT