Kemaman needs a ‘Jawan’ to get oil money from Federal govt

I had a discussion with some people recently about the upcoming by-election in Kemaman. A friend asked whether I would be around to vote.

Frankly, most people that I am surrounded with are tired of politics. It has become an annoying chore. It is up there together with trying on trousers and combing your hair.

You stand for hours in a queue full of confused people. And when you finally get to the ballot box, you are bound to make a choice where all the available options will, in the same way, send this country to gloom and doom.

On Dec 2, voters in Kemaman can either opt for retired army general Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor representing Barisan Nasional (main image, left) or vote for the current Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri of Pas (main image, right).

As I get old, I can sense the hunger in my soul slowly quietening down. It’s not just because I enjoy a nice sit-down more than almost anything. It’s worse. It’s because I can’t be bothered half the time to make a nuisance of myself – carrying placards or flags supporting a candidate who wouldn’t even recognise me the very next day.

Pas’ political culture is fitting for that side of me. The function of the party is primarily limited to the preservation of the status quo. Where this traditionalistic culture is predominant, there is likely to be a noblesse oblige attitude towards government, in which there is a respected view of the institution.

In my mind, Pas is viewed only as a source of favours (patronage), and a party with a strong conservative position in the kinds of policies it forwards. But make no mistake. Anyone familiar with Ahmad Samsuri would describe him as far from being old-fashioned or backward. And that’s great.

But how on earth do you expect to see advancements without the resources to finance it? You can’t. And that is why, ever since Ahmad Samsuri became the menteri besar in 2018, Kemaman has yet to see anything notable or illustrious.

Pas would throw us the routine excuse of the lack of resources, and conveniently pin the blame on the Federal government, which it claims has been denying Terengganu oil royalty.

The menteri besar acknowledges that the wang ehsan (goodwill money) is an expedient Federal construct, so states with no oil patch on their shores cannot expect a bonus unless they have sworn unwavering allegiance to the current Federal power bloc.

He is quite right. Which then brings us to the ex-soldier. He may not be the best for going around the mosque, and he may not have the friendliest of smiles. But for snarling at the Federal government for the money Kemaman (the oil and gas district) deserves, he’s fantastic, and that is the whole point.

In other words, the menteri besar has tried hard, since 2018, to restore Kemaman as an economic powerhouse of the state. But he hasn’t quite succeeded. The direction isn’t quite right, and there is a curious growing presence of workers from mainland China in town.

What we need now is a ‘Jawan’ – either to be interpreted as the man set to rectify the wrongs in society as depicted in the Bollywood movie, or the Hindi word, which means soldier.

It is time for Kemaman to hustle our money back.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.

Main image: Election Commission of Malaysia

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