A somewhat sleepy but not hollow area of about 50km sq, the state constituency is a flatland of tobacco and padi fields with half of the area lies along the sea-side, fronting the popular Pulau Perhentian, an island known to the world for its natural corals.
Majority of the 17,000-odd voters here are farmers while the remaining are fishermen, small fishing industry such as producing keropok and some in tourism sector – the few hotels including Pulau Perhentian.
The nearest township is about 30km which is Jerteh but the locals do not mind going to Pasir Putih in Kelantan which borders Kelantan and Terengganu and the distance is quite the same to Jerteh.
In fact, Kuala Besut is nearer to Kota Baru in Kelantan than Kuala Terengganu where the time taken from Kotas Baru to Kuala Besut is just about an hour compared to Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Besut where it takes about two hours.
There two main islands that Kuala Besut folks are proud of which are Pulau Perhentian Besar and the other is Pulau Perhentian Kecil where the first one houses tourists facilities and accommodations while the second one is where locals live which also has a school for the islanders.
Kuala Besut or Terengganu as a whole has been a religious breeding ground since the 50s, alongside its border Kelantan and Kedah on the West Coast given the poverty situation of the people there.
However, when development began under the federal government of Barisan Nasional (BN), the mindset of the people changed accordingly and began the simultaneous development of religion and economy.
For the locals, the ‘feud’ between PAS and Umno is nothing new as the whole state has been the arena for the two political divide to ‘fight’ for influence since the 50s.
PAS and Umno – both Islamic-based and Malay-based but differences in approach – have been at odds despite being together for just five years in the 70s.
PAS is a splinter of Umno and now has grown to be the second largest Islam-Malay-based party as it pursue its goal of trying to set up an Islamic state and implement the Hudud laws.
The party had won Terengganu once for one term in 1999 until 2004 and the upcoming Kuala Besut by-election is one golden chance for the party to be ‘on-par’ – meaning to give the ruling state Barisan Nasional (BN) a kind of fear and recognition of the party’s influence and strength in the state.
The party had given the state BN a good ‘fight and fright’ by losing just two seats in the 13th general election two months ago but for Kuala Besut, the party may not find it smooth sailing.
Already punters and political observers and people on the street as far as Kuala Lumpur predict that BN would retain the seat except no one has predicted the majority.
Whatever the views and opinions are, the upcoming by-election is expected to be fierce and wild if the political history of the constituency is taken into consideration.