GE15: Boats to ferry islanders on polling day, says BN candidate Latif Bandi

MERSING: Almost 700 residents on five islands around here will be among those casting their votes in the constituency known for its white sandy beaches and popular diving spots.

Most are fishermen while some operate homestays and other businesses on the islands. Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Abd Latif Bandi, 56, said that many of these voters were now on the mainland and would be returning to their islands to vote on Saturday.

“Most are from Pulai Tinggi with 209 voters, followed by Pulau Aur (186), Pulau Sibu (171), Pulau Pemanggil (96) and Besar (34),” he said, adding that on polling day, boats would be provided to ferry them back to their polling centres on each island.

He said village heads on each island had their own boats and he hoped they would be able to provide transport for the voters.

“Besides people living on islands, we also have a large Orang Asli community in this constituency,” he said when met on his walkabout here on Wednesday (Nov 16).

Abd Latif, who had been embroiled in a corruption case, said that he spent five years clearing his name.

On Aug 7, the Johor Baru Sessions Court acquitted the former Johor housing and local government executive councillor, his son Ahmad Fauzan Hatim, 30, and a property consultant, Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raub, 49, of all corruption and money laundering charges related to a land and housing scandal in 2017.

“The Opposition is still using the court case to tarnish my name. However, I have been acquitted by the courts – that is why Barisan fielded me here,” he said, adding that he too was surprised when told to be the candidate in the seat.

Abd Latif will be contesting against four others from Pakatan Harapan, Perikatan Nasional, Pejuang and an Independent.

The seat was previously held by Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad for six terms before he switched to Bersatu after the 14th General Election (GE14) in 2018.

Perikatan is fielding Dr Abdul Latiff’s former political secretary Muhammad Islahuddin Abas, 34, in GE15.

Abd Latif is the oldest among all the candidates, with three others being in their 20s and 30s, but he was unperturbed, saying he understood all the issues in the constituency and problems faced by youth.

“Although I am a familiar face here, I am not taking it easy and I am doing my best to meet as many people as possible,” he said, adding that the constituency has more than 64,589 voters.