IF voter sentiment in the town of Kuang is any indication of Umno’s chances in Selangor in the coming election, then the ruling coalition should brace for a major disappointment.
And this is because voters in this Umno stronghold are prepared to show their anger at increasing fuel prices, via the ballot box.
During an Umno roadshow last night featuring Muhammad Muhammad Taib, who recently rejoined the party from PAS and later PKR, a lacklustre crowd of some 100 people turned up but many slowly left as the ‘ceramah’ dragged on.
For those who didn’t even show up, their explanation was also the reason for a growing discontent towards the ruling Barisan Nasional government – the spiking price of fuel.
“I knew about the ceramah and (Muhammad Muhammad) Taib’s presence here yesterday, but I had more important problems to attend to, like filling my petrol tank,” said Muhamad Kushairi Kamaruddin, a chicken rice seller who has been living in Kampung Setia since 1990.
The government yesterday announced another round of fuel price hikes, the highest since the new weekly managed-float system was introduced in March.
RON95 has gone up by 7 sen to RM2.38 per litre while RON97 up by 6 sen to RM2.66 per litre.
The price of diesel also increased by five sen to RM2.25 per litre, which was also a new high under the weekly float system.
Fuel prices have been going up for five consecutive weeks.
“Seven sen now, seven then, if you accumulate it, it is a lot,” said Kampung Permata village head Latif Shah Hussin Shah.
“It matters, especially for the low-income group and young voters in this area,” said the 58-year-old long-time Umno supporter.
He said that most residents there were concerned about how the fuel price hikes affected their daily spending, and how little they would have left “at the end of the month to feed their wives and children”.
Kuang is a state seat under the Selayang parliamentary constituency, and has never been won by the opposition.
State assemblyman Abdul Shukur Idrus from Umno won the seat against PKR candidate Tengku Maraziyah Tengku Sulaiman in the 2013 general election.
He won by a majority of 1,255 votes.
However, Umno grassroots leaders and long-time supporters believe that unless the government addresses the bread-and-butter issues hitting the people of Kuang and the rest of the country’s low-income residents, the next election might see a major upset for BN.
Chicken rice seller Kushairi said while the older generation of voters in Kuang were likely to continue supporting Umno, many of the younger residents were ready to throw their support behind the opposition.
“Because with all the problems of petrol, the economy, the currency, GST.
“I think PKR’s foothold on Selangor is better,” he said.