SEMENYIH, Feb 21 — Semenyih voters have demanded for more public health facilities as there are only two clinics serving 92,000 residents, causing hours’ long wait times.
They told Malay Mail that patients are also unnecessarily shuffled to and fro between the clinics here and hospitals outside Semenyih, as the overwhelmed clinics send patients to hospitals for basic care only to end up getting diverted back to the clinics.
Kampung Rinching Tengah resident Abdullah Wasijan, 79, pointed out the scarcity of available medical clinics within the Selangor state constituency catering to the needs of locals.
“We could use more clinics. Hospital Kajang has good facilities, but for outpatient treatment, sometimes they have to stay overnight which could pose a problem,” he said.
Another local, a Malaysian Armed Forces retiree, Miskun Mohd Yassin also called for more medical clinics, saying he had to wait for four hours just to get a blood test.
“When the clinics are packed, we sometimes have to sit on the floor and wait, or the clinic will send us to Hospital Kajang instead,” the 72-year-old veteran said.
Miskun, who has been living in Semenyih since 1983, said there was a time where it had gotten so crowded that the beds were fully occupied and the clinic was forced to use makeshift beds or hammocks for patients to sleep in while waiting for treatment.
There are two public clinics in Semenyih which are located in Pekan Semenyih and Beranang.
The distance between Hospital Kajang and Pekan Semenyih is roughly nine kilometres with an estimated commute time of 20 minutes; as for Beranang located just south of Pekan Semenyih, the distance is increased twofold to 18.5 kilometres with an estimated commute time of 35 minutes.
A Beranang native, 54-year-old Mohd Din Suin, echoed both Miskun and Abdullah, pointing out the frequent overcrowding of the public health clinic in Beranang.
“Sometimes they're so packed they will send you to the hospitals. But when you reach the hospitals, they send you back to the clinics, which is an underlying issue for those seeking basic health care,” he said.
According to the 2017 Kajang Municipal Council census, Semenyih has around 92,000 residents. There are over 54,000 registered voters.
Another major headache for locals are the frequent flooding of Sungai Rinching near the town of Rinching.
Civil servant pensioneer Ramlan Salim, 66, said the river would overflow when it rained heavily and temporary sand banks aimed at stemming the water flow were ineffective.
“When it rains heavily, the earth erodes and the sand gets swept into the river, thus negating any good effects it was supposed to do.
“It gets worse during the monsoon season between December and February with water rising up to a metre at least,” said Mohd Din who lived by the river.
Apart from the overflowing of the river, Mohd Din added the water would turn black from contamination believed to be originated from residential developments around the riverbank.
The 54,503 registered voters in Semenyih comprise 67.71 per cent Malay voters, 16.69 per cent Chinese, and 13.73 per cent Indians, according to the Election Commission’s (EC) electoral roll as of January 11.
According to data provided by the EC, gender differences between voters are almost equally balanced with females having a slightly higher number than the opposite sex at 27,916 (51.22 per cent) compared to 26,587 (48.78 per cent).
The state seat that has been held by Umno up until the 14th general election since it was first contested in 1959 comprised mainly voters between the age of 30 and 49.
To break it down, voters aged 30 to 39 constituted almost a quarter at 24.49 per cent (13,348 people), followed by those aged 40 to 49 at 22.66 per cent (12,351 people), and youths between 21 and 29 at 19.50 per cent (10,628).
Semenyih voters age 60 and above form 14.72 per cent (8,018) of its population, but over 98 of them are aged 90 and above.
Fourth state by-election since 2018
For locals, the name of the town is believed to have been derived from the Minangkabau word for ‘hidden’ or ‘Somonyih’, which shares a close resemblance to the Malay word ‘sembunyi’.
This by-election is the first for Pakatan Harapan (PH) component party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and a major test to gauge Malay support for the ruling coalition.
PH candidate Muhammad Aiman Zainali is running against Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Zakaria Hanafi from Umno, Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s (PSM) Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul, and independent Kuan Chee Heng.
The Semenyih state seat falls under the Hulu Langat federal seat currently held by PH which won it from PAS with a majority of 25,424 votes.
With PH wrestling Semenyih away from Umno for the first time in history through the late Bakhtiar Mohd Nor of PPBM with a majority of 8,964 votes, both side of the political divide will no doubt be using a pro-Malay narrative to garner votes.
In GE14, Bakhtiar obtained 23,428 votes to defeat BN’s Datuk Johan Abd Aziz (14,464); Mad Shahmidur Mat Kosim of PAS (6,966); and PSM’s S. Arutchelvan (1,293) in a four cornered fight.
Now in 2019, the March 2 by-election similarly involves a four-cornered fight between PH, PSM, BN, and an independent candidate this time as PAS has given way to BN.
However it remains to be seen whether polling on March 2 would be able to replicate its GE14 turnout of 87.45 per cent as voter fatigue may still persist after going through five by-elections — state by-elections in Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia, and Balakong and parliament by-elections in Port Dickson and Cameron Highlands.