It may be the popular view to write off PKR’s Ansari Abdullah in the Batu Sapi by-election but hard work and a never-say-die attitude seldom fails. On Friday, Ansari almost dropped into the sea a second time since campaigning began on Tuesday due to his insistence on combing the remote, poverty-stricken areas so far shunned by his two rivals who have mainly worked the towns.
“It is terrible and exactly why the people of Sabah must throw out the BN. The catwalk was rotten and could not support the reporters. Three of them fell into the sea this time. Luckily Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and myself managed to hang on,” Ansari told Malaysia Chronicle.
The Tuaran PKR chief was at the hospital getting treatment for small wound and cuts as a result of a wooden bridge collapsing in Kampung Vas. On Wednesday, it was at another of Batu Sapi's poorest areas in Pulau Timbang that he had dropped into the sea after the jetty collapsed.
“Some people say it is a good omen. But whatever it is, I want to go on record as telling the government off for the rubbish they are giving to the people. Just look at the place, it is filthy, no running water, no toilets, no amenities. It is not fit for human beings and yet in Kuala Lumpur, I hear they are building a 100-stories tower. Where is the justice for the poor and needy? Where is the justice for Sabahans?
Media darlings may not win the day
Even Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is confident the Pakatan Rakyat’s momentum is starting kick in and may even startle Ansari’s high-profile contestants – BN’s Linda Tsen and SAPP’s Yong Teck Lee.
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So far, Ansari has lagged behind Linda and Yong in gaining the media spotlight. But in this semi-rural constituency of 26,000-odd voters, being the media darlings may not do the trick.
“The people are ready for change and they will vote for the opposition, the real opposition not Yong Teck Lee, provided I can reach them. In the towns it is easy to create the media hype. Anwar will be here this evening and Kit Siang tomorrow,” said the very forthright Ansari.
“They will help to lighten the workload but we still have to comb a very wide area. And this includes the faraway places where we need to show the people, this is Ansari – he is the one who helped the Kampung Perpaduan folk and in the Chinese Goddess Ma Tzu issue. I can tell you, even in rural places, the folk know about these two issues and they appreciate me but because they do not have newspapers or TV, they don’t know how my face looks like. At balloting time, they may tick BN just because they don’t know how our party logo. In elections in this type of constituency, these are the stumbling blocks.”
Not starting from scratch
Even so, Ansari is not starting from zero. The combined DAP and PKR voter base is 4,000-odd and has been climbing slowly and steadily since campaigning began Tuesday.
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“I think there is some truth in that because this is not SAPP’s territory. So they will be starting from zero or near zero. Yong is a colorful figure but will people really want to vote for him? Those who want change had better not do so because he has already said very clearly he will not join Pakatan Rakyat. The chances are there, he came from BN and if he wins, he may go back to BN,” Ansari said.