21 Januari 2019

Tun Ghafar's poser in Bukit Katil

Tun Ghafar's poser in Bukit Katil

MELAKA March 6 - As the March 13 Nomination Day for the country's 11th General Election approaches, speculations have been rife on who the Barisan Nasional (BN) would field as its candidate in Bukit Katil parliamentary constituency.

The speculations are further fuelled by the question on whether former deputy prime minister Tun Abd Ghafar Baba would defend Bukit Katil, formerly known as Batu Berendam.

Ghafar, 79, is the longest-serving Member of Parliament and has contested in the past ten general elections.

If Ghafar is not standing in Bukit Katil, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam who is the Bukit Katil UMNO division head has been mentioned as a possible candidate.

When asked on this, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam declined to comment, saying that it is up to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to decide.

The other name mentioned is the Rector of Kolej Universiti Teknikal Kebangsaan Malaysia (KUTKM) Datuk Prof Mohd Ruddin Ghani.

Bukit Katil parliamentary constituency came about after the Election Commission's redelineation exercise which saw Batu Berendam being split into two. The other parliamentary constituency which resulted from this process is Tangga Batu.

Bukit Katil has 65,995 voters - Malays (52.1 percent), Chinese (41.9 percent), Indians (5.5 percent) and other races (0.5 percent). It has four state seats - Bachang, Ayer Keroh, Air Molek and the newly-created Bukit Baru.

In the 1999, Abd Ghafar crushed Keadilan's Khalid Jaafar with a majority of 7,105 votes.

Khalid, who is Melaka Keadilan chairman, recently indicated his intention to contest again in Bukit Katil. The DAP also hinted that it would contest there.

Based on the current political scenario, the fight in Bukit Katil appears to be intriguing as the opposition in the state constituencies has been campaigning for some time.

In the 1999 General Election, BN won in Ayer Keroh and Air Molek while Bachang went to DAP's Lim Jak Wong who defeated state Gerakan chairman Datuk Chua Peng Song with a majority of only 41 votes.

BN is expected to put up a fresh face from Gerakan in Bachang while in Ayer Keroh, incumbent assemblyman Datuk Seah Kwi Tong is tipped to meet Melaka DAP chairman Sim Tong Him.

Seah who won by 1,717 votes in 1999 is expected to have a stiff fight as Sim has considerable influence among the Ayer Keroh community.

Pas, said to be interested to contest in Bukit Katil, is keeping mum over its possible candidate.

Meanwhile the newly-created Bukit Baru state constituency is expected to see a "free for all" as DAP and Keadilan have announced that their candidates would contest there.

However the BN is expected to have it easy there if Mohd Ali is retained at state level and moved from his old constituency of Paya Rumput in Tangga Batu parliamentary constituency.

In Air Molek, BN is yet to name a replacement for incumbent Datuk Mo'min Abdul Aziz if he decides to retire. In 1999, Mo'min defeated the Pas candidate by 1,625 votes.