The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak is anticipating a tough fight in Kedah, the home state of an illustrious predecessor-but-now-turned leader of the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as well as against the Islamist Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS).
BN has laid out big plans to transform the sleepy town on Malaysia's border with Thailand into an economic centre which would be the northern equivalent of Iskandar Malaysia, the economic development corridor in Johor which is dotted with luxury condominiums and five-star hotels.
What are the sentiments on the ground? Many residents remain indifferent to the plans for their town, telling The Straits Times of better days in the past, particularly in the 1980s when Thais would flock to the markets to buy household goods, clothing, local fruit and halal products.
The Straits Times Foreign Editor Zakir Hussain discuss this issue with Serina Rahman, a visiting fellow at the Malaysia Studies Programme at ISEAS - Yusof Ishak Institute.