*This story was translated to English from BM. Click here to read the original article on SOSCILI.
Ask any Malaysian urbanite what they think of Kelantan and many of them would probably answer that it’s like the city of Agrabah….the city of wuut? Aladdin’s home town la.
But apart from the odd road trip to the culturally rich state to buy keropok lekor, what do urbanites know? They don’t see everything, hear everything, taste, feel, touch, or smell everything like the original born-and-bred Kelantanese do. Kelantan has been the Islamic PAS government’s stronghold for 26 years since they took over in 1990. Obviously, if they’ve been in power that long, it’s hard to argue that the party definitely enjoys the support of the older generation of Kelantanese (these are the folks who secured PAS’s landslide victory in the ’90 elections).
But what about the YOUNG people? What do they think of their state administration? To find out, we asked 6 young, 20-something Kelantanese to spill the beans. We are aware this is a small number of people so it shouldn’t be assumed that everyone in the state feels the same way. But still, it gives some insight into the thoughts of young Kelantanese people on topics such as…
1. What do they think of PAS and their leadership?
Although PAS only took over in 1990, they buka kedai in Kelantan since 1959. That’s a long history! But recently, the party has been going through a number of problems, such as dissent within the party leading to a split, and Amanah being formed (with several key PAS members leaving to join Amanah). Then out of nowhere, PAS seems to want to work with its old enemy UMNO. Also, their hudud bill is still in limbo.
With all these masalah, has it lost PAS the support of the rakyat? Zaid Ibrahim (prominent lawyer and former law minister), who is from Kota Baru, Kelantan himself, predicts PAS rule might be reaching its end…but what do our young Kelantan friends say?
“So far it’s been ok la, because to us PAS suits our style. Some more the late Tok Guru [Nik Aziz] is a PAS member, so we also support them la.” – Karim, 25 years old
Tok Guru has always been the man Kelantanese people both young and old look up to, as most of us know. Thousands gathered to pay their respects when he passed away in Feb 2015. It’s interesting to note that his influence is still strongly felt even among some young people, so much so that they would still support PAS, even though he has passed on.
“From the time we were born, PAS has been ruling, so we can’t make any comparisons. There are some people who believe that if UMNO rules, maybe we would have more money for the rakyat, but we don’t agree with UMNO ruling Kelantan because we believe in PAS.” – Amirah, 23 years old
“I am ok la, coz if you want to argue about social problems, you see that everywhere else anyway. And if we succeed also it’s not necessarily mainly because of the party [PAS].” – Al Pyam (he chose this name himself), 28 years old
“I feel that the PAS administration in Kelantan is good because it provides a nice check and balance*. But to really benefit the rakyat, I believe that the opposition and federal government have to work together.” – Zul, 28 years old
*A “check and balance” in this context means that having PAS presence balances out the power between the political parties. This is to ensure no one party becomes too powerful.
“Doesn’t matter who rules, as long as the administration does not break Allah’s laws.” – Kimi, 28 years old
However, one guy didn’t share the same view as the other five:
“So far Kelantan has a lot of rules and restrictions. Sometimes it limits modernization, thus narrowing people’s minds. Usually what they feed is Islamic stuff, so people just follow and believe only.” – Nik Helmi, 27 years old
Okie, so far five of them are satisfied with the PAS government despite the recent ongoing issues, though Nik Helmi would prefer if they could loosen up a bit for the sake of development. Speaking of development…
2. What development would they like to see in Kelantan?
Throughout PAS’s administration, development in the state has been considerably slow compared to the rest of Malaysia. PAS blames the federal government for failing to build public housing in the state since they won the elections in 1990 – in fact, a few projects built under BN in the 1980s (such as the Buluh Kubu and Dusun Raja flats) are in desperate need of a makeover, or better yet, replaced completely. Critics however blame PAS for “wrong priorities”, stating that they’re only interested in approving condos and apartments, rather than prioritizing public housing.
Actually, if you see the late Nik Aziz’s house, you kinda have an idea that they prefer the simple life:
So, are our Kelantan friends 100% fine with what they have now, or would they like to see some more development in their state? Would they like an MRT line? Want another airport? Banjir-proof houses maybe?
“If can, I would like to see proper housing and for them to fix the potholes on our roads. Also what’s important is to have more job opportunities.” – Karim
“Until now we’ve only been focusing on Kota Baru. We would like to see other places being developed, like Machang, Pasir Mas, Pasir Puteh, etc.” – Amirah
“I feel that we should focus more on developing society. In times of desperation, people will start looking for opportunities. A lot of successful businesses coming from the East Coast were born out of hard times. So, they want to develop the state, they should make sure it is in line with what the residents want.” – Zul
“As a Kelantanese, I admit that cleanliness is a big problem here, especially the drainage system. One time, I entered a public toilet and there was sh*t everywhere.” – Al Pyam
Again Nik Helmi sees room for improvement:
“Oh I’m jealous of Johor.” – Nik Helmi
Besides Kelantan, we bet a few other states are also a bit jealous of Johor because of the Iskandar development and four more new projects (the Forest City, High-Speed Rail, Gemas-Johor Baru electrified double tracking, and the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex). Essentially Nik Helmi and Amirah would like it to be slightly more developed like Johor or the Klang Valley, but not until so busy like KL.
3. Do they agree with the implementation of hudud?
The hot topic on every Kelantanese’s lips right now is hudud. We’re sure most of ugaiz have a general understanding of what hudud is, but if you want to brush up on your knowledge, read about it here.
But did you know that PAS set up a special team to materialize hudud as far back as 1993? In fact, PAS made a name for itself and won the 1959 elections because of their Islamic ideology. They are pretty bent on getting this law passed not just in the state but across the whole country as well. So far, they’ve managed to implement small, small things like controlling youths lepaking during maghrib (dawn).
“At the moment, I support hudud, but if they want to go all out such as cutting off hands, I cannot really support that because I’m worried that it may be unfair. What if all the poor people only get punished? What about those in a position of power? Another thing is, why only implement this in Kelantan? If anything goes wrong, Kelantan alone will be blamed. So if we want to do this, we should implement hudud nationwide, but in my opinion, I don’t think we are ready for it.” – Karim
“I fully support hudud. Yes la because we are a Muslim country, so I would want it to be implemented.” – Amirah
“We’ve been debating about hudud for a long time and seeing as how Kelantan is one of the states that has the highest number of syariah cases, I hope hudud can deter all that.” – Zul
“There is a lot of things we need to research on regarding hudud. Not that I don’t support it but we have to see if it’s appropriate for the times.” – Nik Helmi
“Personally I 100% agree that we should apply hudud not only in Kelantan, but the whole country. However, most people don’t know or understand what hudud is about, so they’re quick to criticize.” – Al Pyam
The consensus is that they WANT hudud to be implemented, but they want the authorities to make sure it is done right.
4. Are they worried about crime in Kelantan?
Strangely, despite reports showing the rise in crime in Kelantan, our interviewees didn’t seem fazed:
“I feel safe. No problem. I would dare to walk out to the shops alone. If you ask me, Neelofa could even walk alone there because we don’t have that many problems. As far as break-ins and robbery go, we have that as usual. Then again all states also have that problem, so it’s mainly social problems that are bad now.” – Karim
“Nothing. Ok only. Maybe because I’m used to it, so I don’t feel that it’s dangerous.” – Kimi
“I feel like it’s ok for me. No problems.” – Amirah
“Drugs are everywhere. After all, Kelantan is next to Thailand. But everything can be resolved.” – Al Pyam
“You’ve seen those viral videos, some of them are sure from Kelantan. But the person doing that is not necessarily bad. Maybe there is a reason why they act that way.” – Zul
Nik Helmi, who is from Machang, disagrees:
“At night, at a few places, all the shops are closed. So it’s quite cowboy at night. So at night I won’t go out because it’s easy for me to be a victim of theft.” – Nik Helmi
5. Do they feel like they have been sidelined by the federal government?
So, apalagi orang Kelantan mau? 😀
“Of course we would like more funding from the federal government. For example, the government built the LPT (Lebuhraya Pantai Timur) up to Terengganu only. To extend it to Kelantan, we have to use our own money.” – Karim
“Yeah la, if possible we would like help from the federal government. If we expect to bear everything ourselves we can’t.” – Amirah
“YES! But we can’t really complain a lot seeing as we’re all happy. I have not heard Kelantan people asking to build KLIA or KLCC here.” – Al Pyam
“Can also, if the federal government wants to give aid. I don’t think we have the budget to pay for everything. Some more we don’t get oil royalties.” – Kimi
Kelantan and the federal government have been battling over oil royalties for a long time. Whatever oil korek-ed near Kelantan has profited the federal government, but the state receives nothing because the federal government stated that the oil locations are more than three nautical miles offshore, therefore the state’s right to royalties does not apply. In an effort to win Kelantan’s support, Dr. Mahathir promised them that they would get oil royalties if they can defeat the BN government.
Zul on the other hand has a different opinion about why the federal gomen don’t give Kelantan more money:
“Yes and no. Maybe some people are confused with the political agenda. Some of the budget is rejected or cut because they [the federal government] doesn’t have enough money and not because it’s a political issue. Whatever it is, both governments and parties should prioritize the needs of the rakyat.” – Zul
6. If Kelantan becomes like KL, will they move away?
“I would like Kelantan to retain its traditions. If it becomes like KL, it wouldn’t be special any more. I’m scared we will lose our traditions if we become too modern like KL.” – Karim
“I would move back INTO Kelantan if there are more job opportunities there.” – Nik Helmi
“I’ve never thought of moving away.” – Amirah
“Hahaha, this is difficult to answer. Maybe I would move if it’s more profitable and if there are job opportunities.” – Al Pyam
“If it becomes like Penang or KL, I wouldn’t like that, but if it could advance like Johor, that would be ok.” – Kimi
“I think I prefer KL because of the opportunities. Whatever investment that comes to the East Coast is always being injected into the agricultural sector.” – Zul
So yeahhh, young people are more or less happy with the way Kelantan is!
If we had assumed people who are young and in their 20s would have a general affinity towards modernization, tall buildings, and a Starbucks in every corner, these 6 interviewees certainly proved us wrong. Kelantanese are really proud of their state and they love it the way it is.
Sure they said it would be nice if the federal government could show a bit more TLC, so that they could progress sikit-sikit like Johor, but they absolutely don’t want it to end up like KL. They are people who hold on to culture, tradition, and the Kelantan identity; which is quite rare in this day and age.
As Amirah put it, for her, their support of PAS is something of tradition as well, especially since they’ve grown up with PAS’s style of administration and have no other frame of reference unless they leave the state. Too much change too fast can be a scary thing, and in a way PAS is seen as an “anchor” to keep things going at a familiar rate.
In fact, if BN’s 50+ year rule is any indication, it’s not just Kelantan, but most of the country is perfectly happy sticking with what they know, rather than finding out if the grass is greener (or browner) on the other side?
After all, life isn’t a Disney movie so there aren’t any magic carpets to show us the world. And not everyone wants to buy a plane ticket ohoho