Will BN land a 'catch' in Pantai Remis?

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BERUAS (Pantai Remis): Pantai Remis is a coastal town in the Manjung district situated between Simpang near Taiping and Sitiawan. It is a commercial district that serves as the heartland for surrounding towns like Terong, Segari, Kampong Baru Sungai Batu, Kampong Batu Dua Belas, Kampong Melayu and Changkat Keruing.

Fishing is the major industry but others engage in agriculture like palm oil, rice and sugar cane cultivation. The majority of the population is Chinese.

This town has been an opposition stronghold since 1969 except in 1975 when it was won by Barisan Nasional's MCA.

In the 2008 polls, Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming defeated MCA's Datuk Ooi Jing Ting. Nga, a lawyer and state executive council member during the 11-month Pakatan Rakyat rule in the state, has been the assemblyman for Pantai Remis since 1999.

Can BN wrest the seat from the Opposition this time around? Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir feels it is not impossible.

"We cannot consider Pantai Remis a forgone conclusion and that the Opposition will surely win. There is no guarantee they will take it in this election," he said.

Speaking to reporters at the Perak Gerakan Chinese New Year Open House in Pantai Remis on Feb 12, Zambry stressed that it must be remembered BN had once won it.

"We know the situation... it is left to the voters to gauge the performance of the wakil rakyat as to whether he has done a good job or otherwise."

Zambry, who is the Perak BN chairman, said the unity in BN was strong and its election machinery was ready to gempur (attack) the Opposition.

Met at the same function, MCA's Ooi said he will not contest in the coming polls and that MCA Taman Pantai branch and Pantai Remis organising secretary Koh Ser Yun is slated to contest.

Ooi said it would be an uphill task for BN and "we will have to do our best".

However, Pantai Remis resident K. Kasi Naidu, 67, gave BN a 60 per cent chance of wresting the seat. "We are hoping for changes if BN wins, like more low-cost housing projects," he said.

Kasi Naidu, who has been staying in Changkat Kruing for 40 years, has voted in several general elections.

Another voter, Eee Chin Oon, 45, said nothing much had been done for the constituency in the last four years.

He said Gerakan deputy president Datuk Chang Ko Youn had served the people here well. There has been speculation that Chang will contest the Beruas parliamentary seat. Pantai Remis and Pengkalan Aru, held by BN, are the state seats under the constituency.

Bruas is currently held by Perak DAP chairman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham, who is Nga's cousin.

In a text message to The Malay Mail, Nga, who is also the Taiping MP, said: "The mission this time is to recapture Perak ... as such, I will contest in whichever area to accomplish it."

There has been speculation he might move to another seat.

On the comments by residents that his performance had not been good, he said it was "grossly unfair".

"The DAP team has served around the clock and operates two service centres in Pantai Remis and Ayer Tawar. The service team visits every new village and kampung weekly," he said.

Nga pointed out that although there was no allocation from the government, the service team had donated thousands of ringgit to build schools and community services.

For example, he said, RM150,000 in donations went to SJK Min Te and RM25,000 to Yik Ching High School.

"We also do majlis berkhatan (Muslim circumcision ceremonies) in which the party is the main sponsor. I am optimistic the people of Pantai Remis are aware of the real scenario and will continue to give strong support this time."

On the candidature for Pantai Remis, Ngeh said it was a election strategy could not be disclosed. "(It's) just like when you are playing a chess game," he said.

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