The excellent service provided by the late Datuk Razali Ismail as the Member of Parliament for Kuala Terengganu and the move by the federal government to hand over the oil royalty to the state government may ease the burden on Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said to ensure victory for the Barisan Nasional (BN) in the by-election for the parliamentary constituency next month.
Undoubtedly, it will not be easy for BN to defend the seat but these two factors will certainly help Ahmad and the BN machinery in the mission.
The by-election is being held following the death of Razali, who was also the Deputy Education Minister, on Nov 28. Nomination day is Jan 6 and polling day has been set for Jan 17.
“We expect the contest to be very tough but we will certainly defend it,” said Ahmad, 51, who was appointed Terengganu menteri besar on March 31.
The federal government’s agreement to hand over the management of the oil royalty to the Terengganu government will certainly be a great relief for him.
Ahmad, who was appointed chairman of the State Umno Liaison Body on June 14 to replace Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, will definitely want to prove to the people of Terengganu and the top Umno leaders that his leadership is accepted by the people in the state.
Looking at the developments in the state under Ahmad’s administration, Umno and the BN have an edge especially looking at his success in regaining the oil royalty which was considered a victory for the people of Terengganu.
After a series of negotiations with the federal government, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak eventually announced on Dec 13 that the federal government would hand over totally the management of the oil royalty to the Terengganu government.
In contrast to the allegation that the previous Terengganu government had spent substantial funds on several mega projects, Ahmad announced that mega projects would no longer be implemented after this.
On the other hand, the state government would carry out more programmes for the benefit of the people, including the ‘e-Book Programme’ to provide laptop computers in place of books to students beginning next year.
Terengganu’s success in hosting the Malaysia Games (Sukma) for the first time in May had also demonstrated that the people of Terengganu were also capable of excelling in whatever field including sports.
The construction of various sports infrastructure by the state government for the games such as the State Sports Complex at Gong Badak and the Aquatic Centre at Batu Burok, also raised Terengganu’s image in sports development.
What was even sweeter was that Terengganu emerged as the overall champion for the first time since the meet was introduced in 1986.
The outstanding service rendered by the late Razali himself when representing the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary consttuency cannot be denied.
He was noted as a leader who was close to the people and was liked by the constituents.
He was a leader who did not discriminate and was willing to help the people regardless of their political affiliations especially in the field of education.
As a member of Parliament, Razali had an important mission to lift Kuala Terengganu on par with the administrative centres in the other states through the Bukit Besar development project which would involve the construction of 25 government offices to create a central administrative area.
A local political analyst said the Kuala Terengganu electorate must understand that the coming by-election is not only a process of electing a new member of parliament but to choose an elected representative who could continue the excellent service rendered by the late Razali.
Ahmad’s administration also has the support of the palace when Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, who is also the Sultan of Terengganu, mooted the idea of setting up the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) which will utilise the revenue from the oil royalty to invest within and outside the country through the bond markets to ensure continuity of income for the state in future.
In the last general election, Razali, as the incumbent, beat PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and another independent candidate with a majority of 628 votes. Razali received 32,562 votes while Mohamad Sabu had 31,934, and independent candidate Maimun Yusof polled 685 votes.