BUKIT MERTAJAM (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's ruling coalition Barisan Nasional may be seen as the underdog in the Permatang Pauh by-election, but the party will work hard to wrest back the seat from the opposition, said Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
"It's our intention to wrest back Permatang Pauh to help the people and develop this area. We want to raise Barisan flags here.
"I understand that some parties see Umno and Barisan as the underdog in this by-election, but nothing is impossible in politics.
"We are ready to fight tooth and nail in this uphill battle," he said to the cheers of party members during a meeting with Permatang Pauh Umno division leaders and members here on Sunday.
Muhyiddin said the feedback he had received from the people was that Permatang Pauh, the seat last held by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before his imprisonment, had long been neglected by the opposition and Barisan leaders want to help the people with financial assistance from the Federal Government.
"We will explain all the issues raised by the opposition and we will do what we need to do," he said, adding that Permatang Pauh Umno chief Datuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said had also managed to unite the opposing factions in the division.
On the Barisan candidate for the seat, Muhyiddin said he had received several names informally.
"We will gauge them based on their track record and the voters' acceptance," he added.
Muhyiddin also said Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal would coordinate the assistance needed for both the Permatang Pauh and Rompin seats.
A by-election was also called for the Rompin seat following the death of its MP Tan Sri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis.
Muhyiddin said the Barisan is determined to win both seats.
He added that Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi would assist him in the Permatang Pauh Barisan campaign programmes while Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein would assist him in Rompin.
The polling days are May 7 for Permatang Pauh and May 5 for Rompin.