In Kajang, rumblings of discontent as Dr Wan Azizah targets Permatang Pauh

PKR announced on April 24, 2015 that it has chosen its party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah as its candidate for the Permatang Pauh by-election. — Picture by K.E. Ooi
PKR announced on April 24, 2015 that it has chosen its party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah as its candidate for the Permatang Pauh by-election. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

KAJANG, April 29 — Voters in Permatang Pauh wondering if Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail can serve two constituencies simultaneously need only take a look at Kajang, where locals are asking if she is able to serve even one.

Grouses by constituents met here by Malay Mail Online suggest that there is credibility to claims that the PKR president would be stretched to cater to the interests of both the Selangor state and Penang federal constituency satisfactorily.

According to some, her performance in Kajang alone was already wanting even without the possible distraction of being MP in a state hundreds of kilometres north.

“She is a sleeping YB. Never comes here, unlike Cikgu Lee,” said Koh Hong Toong, referring to former PKR lawmaker Lee Kim Sin who won in Election 2008 but was dropped for the unknown Lee Chin Cheh in Election 2013.

Lee Chin Cheh went on to quit the seat as part of PKR’s convoluted “Kajang Move” to oust Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor mentri besar, which led to Dr Wan Azizah being elected as the state lawmaker after her husband, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, was disqualified.

Koh also complained that traffic conditions have worsened since PKR won here, despite its pledge to alleviate the problem when campaigning for the by-election last March.

The constituency was also the site of heavy floods during the monsoonal season late last year.

When asked if he saw any promises fulfilled after the polls, the 44-year-old mobile phone seller briefly said: “Never, never.”

A newspaper vendor who asked to be named only as Subramaniam echoed Koh’s view and said he was annoyed when he learnt that Dr Wan Azizah was contesting the Permatang Pauh poll.

“Got no people there? Why you do not focus on people here? You are here, then you help people here. Got poor people, dirty roads, say can help but did not help.

“Talk a lot, but no action,” the 57-year-old said.

Dr Wan Azizah won the seat on March 23, 2014, defeating Barisan Nasional candidate, MCA’s Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun.

While Koh and Subramaniam appeared angry over the PKR president’s lack of effort in Kajang, others said her performance here was a bellwether of how she will fare if she is re-elected in Permatang Pauh.

“If she cannot handle Kajang, can she handle Permatang Pauh?” a 25-year-old legal assistant who identified herself only as Nana.

On Monday, BN leaders in Permatang Pauh questioned how Dr Wan Azizah would be able to serve constituencies in two different states, saying it was why Permatang Pauh needed a locally-based representative.

“We regret that PKR has forced her to carry such a heavy burden as a Kajang state assemblyman, as the party president, as the Opposition Leader, as a grandmother and a mother and now to also be the Permatang Pauh MP,” Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman said then.

The seat in Penang fell vacant after Anwar was disqualified by his sodomy conviction on February 10.

It has been a PKR stronghold since Dr Wan Azizah first led the party to take the seat back in the 1999 general election.

Anwar first won the Permatang Pauh seat back in 1982 under BN before he was sacked in 1998 and jailed in Sodomy I.

In the last general election, Anwar defeated BN’s Dr Mazlan Ismail with a 11,721-vote majority.

A total of 71,890 registered voters in Permatang Pauh will cast their vote for their new MP on May 7, while early polls are on May 3.

Dr Wan Azizah is contesting the Permatang Pauh seat for PKR against BN’s Suhaimi, PRM’s Azman Shah Othman and independent candidate Salleh Isahak.