Sabah state election: Hajiji reveals his secret for staying relevant in Sulaman

Sulaman assemblyman Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor. — Bernama pic
Sulaman assemblyman Datuk Hajiji Mohd Noor. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 21 — Datuk Hajiji Noor, 65, is a household name especially in the Sulaman constituency for being a humble leader who keeps his cool and is always ready with a smile.

His modest and gentle demeanor makes Hajiji, a Tuaran native of the Bajau Sama ethnicity, approachable and easy to talk to.

Despite being among the top leaders in Sabah, Hajiji never let the positions he held throughout his involvement in the state’s political arena stop him from being close to the people especially in the Sulaman constituency, a seat he has held since 1990.

“The most important thing is for the elected representative to serve the people. Whatever problems the people face should be brought before the government. We must help the people. Let us not be arrogant when we have become elected representatives or ministers; instead, we focus our attention on defending the fate of the people.

“Besides, we also need to always think what is best for the future of the people including bringing progress and development and providing basic amenities to them,” he told Bernama here.

On his secret for staying relevant until today, Hajiji said assemblymen should work towards establishing cooperation and fostering unity among the people of various races, religious backgrounds and political ideologies.

He said elected representatives should convey the people’s aspirations and concerns to the government, apart from delivering assistance to the people including those who did not vote for them.

“We must always be with the people. Listen to their problems. When they invite me to their events, I will attend...like we are a family. We must be sincere in serving the people. Let us not change when we have been made representatives or ministers,” said the incumbent Sulaman assemblyman.

Hajiji, who is also the Sabah Bersatu chief, said this has been his principle since being elected as the Sulaman assemblyman at the age of 34.

Living in a village in Tuaran, about 40 km from Kota Kinabalu, even while he was a senior minister in the state government has provided him the opportunity to serve the people more closely.

“People always come to see me (at home) until midnight, even in the morning. Some come to ask for endorsements and all sorts of things...We have to take action. They understand that not everything can be done, but if we are on good terms with the people, Insya Allah, they will support and be loyal (to us),” he said.

Hajiji is optimistic of retaining Sulaman in the 16th Sabah state election because the people have witnessed and experienced the progress he brought, especially in terms of basic amenities such as construction of road, supply of clean water and electricity as well as efforts to drive its socio-economy such as in fisheries and tourism.

“I believe the people still trust me to continue with all the plans for development that have yet to be implemented,” he said.

Meanwhile, several voters in Sulaman told Bernama that they wanted to retain Hajiji as their representative because he is people-oriented, responsible, considerate and generous.

“He is quick to help people who are in need. Always patient in attending to those who came to see him at odd hours of 2, 3 am. He cares about his people,” said Noraidawati Noorzali from Kampung Bolong.

For Wileap Stephen, 32, from Kampung Dungang, Hajiji’s likeable personality continues to make him relevant among the people and touch their hearts, including among the young people, because many of his activities and programmes also emphasise nurturing youth potential.

Hajiji, who is a Perikatan Nasional candidate, is being challenged by his nephew Datuk Aliasgar Basri from Warisan and Datuk Rekan Hussein of PCS in Sulaman, which has 11,711 voters, in the Sept 26 election.

In the 14th general election, Hajiji garnered 12,966 votes to defeat Abdullah Sani Daud of Warisan, who obtained 5,192 votes, and Arifin Harith of PHRS, who got 467 votes. — Bernama

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