Friday, June 14, 2013

A 'rural government' running Terengganu?

***************** In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ******************* Reflection ******************* The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. ************************** (Part 2 of the writter's journey in the East Coast states) ************************* BEFORE spending time in Pengerang, Johor (this was focussed in my previous article entitled 'Hidup susah mati pun susah' - Being alive is difficult, being dead too is difficult), I was in Terengganu where PAS failed to wrest power from BN even though it had run a vigorous campaign such as 'PAS ganti Umno' (PAS replaces Umno). ********************* In this 'turtle state', I stayed at a relative house in a ‘kampung’, north of Kuala Terengganu; to be exact in Setiu. The house I stayed in was near a masjid, so for ‘solat’ (prayers), I tried my best to perform it in the masjid. ********************* To my surprise on every occasion, only a handful of old men were at the huge sparkling new masjid. Then during journeys in the state, I found out that a few other masjids too attracted very few congregators during mass prayers of compulsory 'solat' (prayes) such as 'zuhur' (afternoon) and 'isyak' (late evening) prayers. Many masjids in Terengganu are huge and new eventhough they are located in rural areas. ************************* So I wasn’t shocked when newspapers not long ago carried stories from the State Assembly saying that masjids in Terengganu failed to attract Muslims especially the youth other than the weekly Friday’s prayers. ******************************* It was reported that the attendance at masjids especially in rural areas was very poor even though the state government had built more than 100 masjids with several hundred millions of ringgit in allocations. *************************** The state government headed by Menteri Besar Ahmad Said was reported had realized the situation and had taken various steps to rectify it such as introducing Quran learning lessons in masjids and setting up tuition classes there. *************************** The Terengganu government too had built a crystal masjid and 21 replica masjids costing millions of ringgits on an island (Pulau Wan Man) called ‘Taman Tamadun Islam (TTI)’ (Islamic Civilization Edutainment Park) at the estuary of the Terengganu River to project itself as being concerned about religious matters. One could witness the glittering masjids when driving along the Sultan Mahmud Bridge in Kuala Terengganu. ************************** In my opinion the Terengganu government should ‘muhasabah’ (revaluate) itself as to why the people shy away from masjids. It is a pity and strange sight indeed when only a handful of veteran citizens come to pray in the many big and beautiful masjids in the state. Only a handful of old timers were seen at masjids, so where have the youth of Terengganu gone to? ****************************** I spoke about that matter to my relative who asked me to think for an answer by having a good look at the results of just concluded general election - in Terengganu and perhaps for the whole country, one would notice that there was this 'sick' trend; BN fared well in hinterlands, rural areas and kampungs but was trashed in urban and semi urban areas. ***************************** In the 13th general election (GE13) held on the 5th May, Terengganu state Barisan Nasional (BN) returned to power; clinging to a two seats advantage against PAS. It obtained 17 seats compared to 15 by PAS in the 32 seat state Assembly. ************************** In the battle of parliamentary constituency of the state, BN and PAS fared evenly; both won four seats. ************************ For the Parliamentary seats, BN won mostly in rural areas, namely Besut, Setiu, Hulu Terengganu and Kemaman but PAS won the mostly urban and semi urban areas - Kuala Terengganu, Marang, Dungun and Kuala Nerus. ************************ For the state seats, BN 'amazingly (to them)' and alarmingly (to PAS) won all the seats under the Besut Parliamentary constituency namely Kuala Besut, Kota Putera, Jertih and Hulu Besut. ********************* Under the Parliamentary constituency of Setiu, BN also won all the state seats namely Jabi, Permaisuri, Langkap and Batu Rakit. But BN was trashed completely in the urban areas of Kuala Terengganu when the Parliamentary seat and all state seats under it were secured by PAS (3 seats) and PKR (1). ************************** PAS won all but one state seats under the Kuala Nerus Parliamentary constituency - Tepuh, Teluk Pasu and Bukit Tunggal and the seat it lost was Seberang Takir, to BN. And in Marang (where PAS President Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang won with a majority of 5,124 votes), BN only managed to grab the Pengkalan Berangan state seat while the rest (Alur Limbat, Bukit Payung and Ru Redang) were won by PAS. ************************** Looking at the election results, the relative said, a thinking person should asked this - why did BN win mostly in rural areas and was trashed in urban and semi urban settings? ********************* On the positive side, he said it was true that the state BN and federal government spent a lot of money and resources to develop rural areas with various projects; the existance of huge and magnificent public buildings such as schools, mini hospitals and masjids supported that views. ************************ "Even in the development of education of rural pupils, they have various projects; they poured millions of ringgit to make dreams come true; for example Terengganu shone as the best achiver for the whole country in public examinations such as UPSR, PMR and SPM year after year. ************************* Yes, many students from rural areas furthered their studies elsewhere especially in big towns and other developed states and places such as Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. *************************** "Those without high grades in examinations too were assured places in vocational and industries sectors in the state known as the Kuwait of Malaysia for its petroleum and gas production. **************************** The migration of the younger generation from rural kampungs to urban areas in the state and other states was among the reasons the contributed to the almost non-existence of youth during mass prayers in masjids," claimed the relative. ************************ Other than various projects for the rural people, the relative did not deny that various cash incentives went directy to the people or their representatives. He noted that during the period of election fever, cash handouts were given including to party 'strongmen' to finance various 'kenduris' and gatherings and in his area, BN 'pos' (gathering centres) readied good and tasty food such as 'nasi Arab' and 'nasi briyani' for almost every night. ************************* The relative who is a teacher said, some of his pupils too often wandered around and spent a lot of time at this 'pos', sometimes to the wee hours of the night. ***************************** "In school these pupils seemed to be sleepy but alert in knowing which 'pos' readied the best or tastiest food. They would recommended to me which 'pos' was the best for me to visit. 'Makan free, cikgu' (Food is free, teacher),' they would 'tease' me. *************************** "People in the rural area were pleased with BN what more with its campaigns and propaganda machinery including the mass media highlighting every now and then what they claimed as successful and helpful programmes to the rakyat such as BR1M and cash handouts to pupils and book vouchers to students of higher institutions," said the relative. ************************ He said because of the rural people's dependence on information that was mostly from the traditional media such as TV, radio and main stream newspapers; they were not too concerned about 'unseen' things and happenings such as corruption, accountability and transparency. ********************** "Some were easily deceived by big projects and programmes they witnessed around them. Well, nowadays almost every kampung has a big and beautiful masjid, primary school and some even have impressive infrastrutures and service centres such as Klinik 1-Malaysia and one stop centres," said the relative. ************************* "So, what more these rural folks asking for; thus I believed a high percentage of them voted for BN! PAS must do something about this development if they want to make inroads into rural areas in the next coming election," he said.

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