But last Sunday, the sleepy town of Kuala Selangor was unusually active, as the town's stadium played host to carnival which saw some 70,000 visitors from sunrise to sunset.
The event, organised in conjunction with the fourth anniversary of the Pakatan Rakyat’s rule in Selangor, was intended to thank the locals for their support.
While the urban crowd would have to be content with “thank you” billboards, the extravagance of the Kuala Selangor event suggests a serious attempt by Pakatan to make inroads into the north western 'rice belt', traditionally a BN bastion.
This area covers the district of Sabak Bernam and Kuala Selangor, famed for its paddy production and seafood. It consists of nine state seats, six of which are held by BN.
In order from North to South, they are Sungai Ayer Tawar (BN), Sabak (BN), Sungai Panjang (BN), Sekinchan (DAP) Sungai Burong (BN) , Permatang (BN), Bukit Melawati (PKR), Ijok (PKR) and Jeram (BN).
Pakatan the underdogs
"It is clear that after 2008, the rakyat's support has swung back to BN and we should be able to defend our position and increase our majorities," he said.
This confidence owes to the fact that the area has consistently voted for BN since the coalition was formed in 1972.
Prior to 2008, the only time Pakatan made headway in the state's rice bowl was in 1999, when two state seats fell to PAS following the fallout from the reformasi movement.
One last exception was when DAP won Sekinchan in 2004 and successfully defended the seat in 2008.
'Stomping ground for PAS'
PAS is expected to lead the charge on the north western front as it will contest five of the six BN-held seats while the other, being Permatang, will be contested by PKR.
Gains in the rice belt would allow Pakatan to capture two-thirds majority in the state and help PAS towards equal representation to its coalition partners in the Selangor legislative assembly.
Presently, Pakatan is four seats short of a two-thirds majority in the 56-seat state assembly, with PKR and DAP both holding 13 seats each while PAS has 7 seats.
According to Selangor PAS commissioner Dr Abdul Rani Osman ( left), both PAS and BN have engaged the same research organisation with similar results - that the battle would be in the rural heartland, including the north western region.
"We are focusing on the periphery with our Semarak Hijau programmes such as Futsal games and medical checkups that allows our candidates to connect with the rakyat," said Abdul Rani, who is also the Meru state assemblyperson.
Based on the feedback, Rani said, PAS is confident it can make inroads in at least four state seats, namely Sungai Ayer Tawar, Sabak and Jeram and Sungai Burong.
Fishing for discontent
Though former Selangor Menteri Besar Khir Toyo has been sentence to a year's jail for graft and is not expected to re-contest in Sungai Panjang, PAS is unlikely to capture the seat as BN's influence remains strong.
Despite the tide of discontent in the 2008 general election which saw many BN state assemblypersons' majority slashed, Khir bucked the trend and managed to increase his majority in Sungai Panjang from 5,460 to 5,860 votes.
It is understood Sungai Besar Umno Youth chief Budiman Mohd Zohdi will be fielded as a replacement candidate there and will ride on the 'Khir wave' to retain the seat.
Sekinchan state assemblyperson Ng Suee Lim said though discontent against BN has subsided compared to 2008, particularly among Malay voters, it was hoped that the Pakatan-led state government's slew of welfare programmes can win them over.
He adds that Khir's departure has somewhat weakened BN's grip in the region, and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak appears reluctant to allow deputy Selangor BN chairperson Noh Omar to take over, instead choosing to personally helm the state.
Ng said Noh who is a polarising figure there may allow Pakatan to capture Sungai Ayer Tawar and Sabak where the fishermen, an important voting bloc, are unhappy with the agriculture and agro-based industry minister.
Last June, Noh and deep-sea fishermen had been at loggerheads after the former announced the abolition of their diesel subsidies.
Noh in a briefing to BN MPs last month had lamented the lack of support from the fishing community despite the amount of federal funds being poured into their area.
Najib, under this year's budget, had also allocated some RM300 million targeted specifically at fishermen.
The two said seats fall within the parliamentary constituency of Sabak Bernam (BN) which is expected to be contested by constitutional expert Abdul Aziz Bari who was last year triggered an academic freedom protest after he was suspended for commenting on the Sultan’s powers.
The other three parliamentary seats in the state’s rice bowl are Sungai Besar (BN), Tanjung Karang (BN) and Kuala Selangor (PAS).
However, Noh in an interview with Nanyang Siang Pau on Friday, was upbeat that BN can reverse its fortunes from 2008 in the state.
He told the daily that Umno will be able to capture 30 of 35 seats that it will contest, while MCA is expected to capture five of 14 seats and MIC and Gerakan will clinched one seat each of the three and four seats they will contest respectively.
Umno captured 19 seats while MCA grabbed two in the last general election.
For MCA, its predicted improvement in performance will come from wresting Ng’s own constituency of Sekinchan which he admits takes only a small swing to unseat him.
However, Ng ( right) said based on the state government's track record and DAP's work on the ground, he is confident in fending off MCA's challenge.
Ng who had won Sekinchan in 2004 to become only one of two elected opposition state assemblyperson when BN ruled Selangor retained the seat in 2008, but against national trends, saw his majority fall from 344 to 190.
This, he said, was because after 2004, Khir had poured the state's resources into his constituency in an attempt to unseat the sole opposition state assemblyperson in a BN stronghold.
"But now we control the state government and we can give out allocations, not just BN can do this," he said.
Ending federal 'meddling'
A two-thirds majority, he adds, will enable Pakatan to amend the Selangor constitution allowing the state to appoint its own state secretary, financial advisor and legal advisor which is presently appointed by federal government.
Last year, the state government refusal to accept state secretary candidate Khusrin Munawi, appointed by the federal government, led to a constitutional crisis and a failed attempt to amend the Selangor constitution to restore the powers back to the state.
On fears of spike in new voters, Ng described the increase as "natural" in the north western region and said inroads here will help negate potential losses such as in Hulu Selangor, Puchong and Subang Jaya which has experienced unusually high new voter growth which he claims as BN election machinations to wrest back the state.
Meanwhile, farther south, Bukit Melawati state assemblyperson M Muthiah expects to retain his seat and believes PKR will capture Permatang, the only seat the party failed to capture in 2008 of the three seats in contested in the region.
The other seat, Ijok is held by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, the sole Pakatan state assemblyperson in the rice belt to win with a four digit majority.
"Nationally there is a swing back to BN but from the 2008 political tsunami, the people have learnt the alternative Pakatan state government is doing a better job, I believe we have proven that," said Muthiah.
Rep: BN can't draw a crowd
It is understood that Permatang will be contested by its state assembly coordinator Mohd Yahya Mat Shaari.
Pointing to a BN gathering in Kuala Selangor last year, Muthiah said if the coalition was confident that Pakatan cannot penetrate its stronghold, then BN should similarly hold a Pakatan-style rally to gauge its support there.
"But they held it in the parking compound of Tesco to borrow the shopping crowd and managed to gather 5,000, if they dare, they should hold it in a stadium, the Selangor government does not prevent them from renting the venue," he said.
Though Pakatan's carnival last Sunday reportedly garnered some 70,000 locals and outsiders throughout the day, its night ceramah at the stadium, like BN, garnered an audience of about 5,000.- Nigel Aw, malaysiakini
Noh Omar Bermimpi Di Siang Hari...
Keyakinan Timbalan Pengerusi Umno Selangor Datuk Seri Noh Omar kononnya gagasan itu mampu merampas kembali negeri Selangor dalam pilihan raya umum akan datang disifatkan sebagai mimpi disiang hari.
ADUN Sri Muda, Shuhaimi Shafiei berkata kenyataan seumpama itu adalah amalan biasa bagi kepimpinan Umno-BN sebagai cubaan meyakinkan rakyat bahawa mereka masih relevan untuk memerintah negeri.
“Kenyataan Umno Selangor itu jelas satu rektorik dan perang saraf menjelang pilihanraya.
“Umno Selangor sebelum PRU-12 pernah membuat kenyataan bahawa di Selangor akan sifar pembangkang, keyakinan yang memuncak itu terjawab selepas 2008 dimana Umno-BN disingkirkan rakyat untuk terus menerajui Selangor,”jelasnya.
Media sebelum ini melaporkan, Noh Omar sebagai berkata pihaknya yakin Umno-Bn akan menang di 36 daripada 56 kerusi yang dipertandingkan, hanya kurang satu kerusi untuk membentuk majoriti dua pertiga dalam Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN).
Dalam wawancara itu juga, Noh meramalkan Umno akan menang 30 daripada 35 kerusi yang ditandingi, MCA mampu mendapat lima daripada 14 kerusi sementara GERAKAN dan MIC masih-masing mendapat satu kerusi. Mengulas lanjut berhubung perkara ini, Shuhaimi berkata hasil tinjaun yang dilakukan berhubung penerimaan rakyat terhadap kepimpinan hari ini jelas menafikan kenyataan Noh itu.
“PKR dan Pas masing-masing bakal menambah sekurang-kurangnya lima lagi kerusi. Manakala DAP akan terus mengekalkan 13 kerusinya pada PRU-13 akan datang.
“Perkara ini dikuatkan lagi dengan culaan terakhir yang dijalankan dimana 62 peratus rakyat selesa dan menyokong penuh kepimpinan Pakatan Rakyat di Selangor.
“Apa yang dilakukan oleh kerajaan negeri sejak sekian lama ini memberikan impak yang baik selain keselesaan kepada rakyat di Selangor.
“Saya tidak nampak sebab untuk rakyat menolak sebuah kerajaan yang telus, bertanggungjawab dan menitik beratkan kebajikan rakyat dengan melaksanakan 20 program yang terus membantu golongan-golongan miskin di Selangor,”jelas Shuhaimi ketika dihubungi SelangorKu.
Menurut Suhaimi lagi tidak masuk akal memandangkan terlalu banyak penyelewengan dilakukan Oleh Umno-BN ketika menguasai Selangor.
“Segala penyelewengan yang dilakukan Umno Selangor itu sudah terlalu besar untuk dimaafkan oleh rakyat dan rakyat tidak sesekali akan membenarkan perompak dan penyamun ini kembali memerintah.
“Kami akan bongkar pelbagai lagi salah laku dan penyelewengan Umno terutama dalam aktiviti menjual tanah rezab melayu untuk kepentingan poket pemimpin politik mereka,”jelas Shuhaimi.
Shuhaimi menambah, Umno seharusnya melihat kepada realiti sebenar dan bukannya membuat kenyataan rektorik semata-mata.
“Umno Selangor telah mencuba segala macam cara untuk merampas Selangor, tetapi mereka lupa rakyat hari ini cerdik untuk menilai.
“Malangnya, Perdana Menteri sendiri terpaksa turun padang membantu pemimpin Umno-Selangor,”tambah Shuhaimi.
Menyedari tiada pemimpin Umno Selangor yang berpotensi dan bersih dari sebarang penyelewengan kuasa, Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak terpaksa dilantik mengetuai Umno Selangor.
Najib pula pada minggu lalu membuat kenyataan bahawa rakyat Selangor telah memberi sokongan memuncak kepada kerajaan selepas beliau mengadakan lawatan ke Selangor. Kenyataan Noh tersebut juga dilihat sebagai tindakan mengampu bertujuan mengambil hati Perdana Menteri sedangkan hakikatnya Umno-BN semakin disisih oleh rakyat Selangor
Katanya, walaupun mendapat sokongan kurang memberangsangkan selepas kalah dalam pilihan raya umum 2008, situasi kini berubah bawah kepimpinan Datuk Seri Najib Razak secara langsung.-media selangorku