A member of Malaysia's ruling party United Malays National Organization (UMNO) waves flags as they sing the party's song during the opening ceremony of UMNO general assembly in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

KUALA LUMPUR – While the PAS-led Kelantan government trumpets its economic growth, Umno has been buckling down to upgrade infrastructure in the state outside the Kota Baru capital.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) anchor party may appear to be on friendly terms with the Islamic party in recent months, but its leaders certainly know where its priorities lie with the 14th general elections on the horizon.

“Kota Baru has always received primacy when it comes to economic activities. But development must also be spread over the other areas. One of the problems was infrastructure, there wasn’t many.

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been generous enough to assist in our infrastructure development with the ECRL and the Central Spine Road (CSR). This should help transform Kelantan and once there, everything will fall into place,” Umno information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa told Malay Mail Online last Friday, after a news conference here on his party’s efforts to boost voter support.

The CSR or Kuala Krai-Kuala Pilah Highway is going to be a toll-free four-lane highway running for 325 km after it is completed in 2020. It is considered an improvement on the two-lane highway currently connecting Peninsula Malaysia’s east and west coast.

Upon completion in 2024, the RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) will connect Port Klang in Malaysia’s west coast to Kota Baru. The 688 km-long rail features 22 stations and is projected to connect passengers from the Kelantan capital to its Gombak station in only four hours.

Annuar was asked to respond to a report last week by Singaporean daily the Straits Times that suggested unhappiness over a lack of economic opportunities in Kelantan may shake voter support in the PAS stronghold.

While he agreed with the newspaper’s analysis, the Umno supreme council member appeared keen to play down his party’s chance to take back Kelantan after 30 years.

He said the Kelantanese are by nature an industrious people, and that their unhappiness over the lack of economic opportunities is not something new.

He added that it does not matter which party rules Kelantan’ what is important is that the party will bring greater development to one of the least developed states in peninsular Malaysia.

Annuar said he is working together with Kelantan Umno chief Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed to prepare an election manifesto that is more focused on the state’s economic development.

However, he decline to disclose more information regarding their proposal to their party president.


Annuar also observed that Parti Amanah Negara has been very active in campaigning against the PAS-led state government.

“I see many former PAS leaders who are now in Amanah campaigning against the current state government. These are respected leaders like Husam Musa and Datuk Wan Abdul Rahim.

However, we don’t intend to interfere in their matter,” he said.

Instead, he said the Kelantan Umno election machinery has already switched to high gear and is focusing on strengthening the party’s position in the state.

Annuar said there is more micro-management among the party workers and they are actively taking records of voter statistics, setting up war rooms and call centres in each divisions, preparing for “D-day” and post-dissolution of Parliament.

“Things are looking positive for us. I believe Kelantan Umno will do better this time around,” said Annuar.

– Malay Mail