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In Muar, a battle between the incumbent and the locals

Muda's Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman is looking to retain his seat for another term but some locals say that the other candidates from BN and PN also stand a good chance.

Teoh Yee Shen
2 minute read
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The flags of Barisan Nasional and Muda flap in the breeze at a fishing village in Muar, Johor.
The flags of Barisan Nasional and Muda flap in the breeze at a fishing village in Muar, Johor.

In Muar, a town close to Melaka in the northwest of Johor, candidates are gearing up for the last leg of the campaign period before voters head to the polls.

And on the ground, voters are deciding who they will support come election day on Nov 19. 

The Muar seat is currently held by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman of Muda. Syed Saddiq won the seat at the 2018 general election on a Bersatu ticket, before the party's exit from Pakatan Harapan (PH), beating candidates from Umno and PAS with just over 53% of the votes. 

This time, he will be defending the seat on a Muda ticket as part of an electoral pact with PH under which the latter agreed not to field candidates in areas contested by the youth-based party. 

He is up against Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Mohd Helmy Abd Latif and Abdullah Husin of Perikatan Nasional (PN). 

He also faces the question of whether he will succeed in retaining his seat, given that Muda is seen as less influential than his old party Bersatu, and the fact that his opponents are both locals from Muar.

Syed Saddiq himself hails from Pulai, Johor Bahru.

At Parit Jawa, a small fishing village about 15.8km from Muar, a young fisherman said he believed Muda's chances were good. 

Mohd Sukri Tukimin, 21, voted for the first time in the Johor state election in March. 

"Muda has a chance here," he said to MalaysiaNow. "Syed Saddiq provides aid – more than the assistance provided by BN. 

"BN's odds are not good. Helmy is a local but I don't see him around." 

And as for PN's candidate Husin, Sukri says he doesn't stand a chance. 

For fishermen in Parit Jawa like Sukri, the biggest problem is cross-territory fishing activities which see fishermen from other areas such as Pontian crossing into the locality. 

Two local Chinese fishermen who declined to give their names said the matter had been a thorn in their side for years. 

One of them, who has lived in the village for nearly 40 years, said MPs had come to speak to the fishermen about the issue. 

"But it's still unresolved," he added. 

The other said this was due to corruption. "For the local Chinese, support will definitely go to Muda," he said. 

Zainal Abidin Abdullah, who runs a food business in Parit Jawa, said all three candidates had an equal chance of winning. 

"But youngsters will support Syed Saddiq," the 64-year-old said, describing the Muda president as a "good guy". 

In the town of Muar itself, the atmosphere is more laidback with fewer flags and banners than in the villages. 

Shop owner Yunos Ludin said he had benefitted from Syed Saddiq's financial aid. 

"But if the BN candidate is a new face in the area, he might stand a chance," he added. 

Fellow shop owner Ng, who has lived in Muar for more than 70 years, said Syed Saddiq was active in the area. 

"BN might stand a chance, but still it's hard to say," he said. 

A total of 68,925 individuals are eligible to vote in Muar. Of these, 67% are Malay, 32% Chinese and 1% Indian.