Malaysia election: Barisan Nasional pins hopes on Kedah, 'Iskandar of the North'

Far left: Mr Noor Shamsul Hadi Zainal Abidin (with glasses), a provision shop owner in Bukit Kayu Hitam seen here with his worker Mohd Zaidi Zakaria, remembers better days in the 1980s, when Thais would flock to the markets to buy household goods, cl
The "forgotten town" of Bukit Kayu Hitam is seeing some signs of development, including the newly built Customs, immigration and quarantine complex.ST PHOTOS: ARLINA ARSHAD
Far left: Mr Noor Shamsul Hadi Zainal Abidin (with glasses), a provision shop owner in Bukit Kayu Hitam seen here with his worker Mohd Zaidi Zakaria, remembers better days in the 1980s, when Thais would flock to the markets to buy household goods, cl
Mr Noor Shamsul Hadi Zainal Abidin (with glasses), a provision shop owner in Bukit Kayu Hitam seen here with his worker Mohd Zaidi Zakaria, remembers better days in the 1980s, when Thais would flock to the markets to buy household goods, clothing, local fruit and halal products.ST PHOTOS: ARLINA ARSHAD

It plans special economic zone in Mahathir's home state as it gears up for tough contest

One resident aptly calls it the "forgotten town".

But Bukit Kayu Hitam, marked by its dusty streets and nondescript tom yam restaurants and wholesale shops selling pots, pans and coconut brooms, is taking centre stage in the battle for control of the state of Kedah in the forthcoming May 9 election.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2018, with the headline 'BN pins hopes on 'Iskandar of the North''. Print Edition | Subscribe