KLANG, Oct 31 — In this laidback town that is mostly famous for its seafood and bak kut teh, the residents — as expected — have many “wishes” for the coming general election.
However, about 30 of those who spoke to Malay Mail Online want one thing from their elected representatives.
“We want to see our leaders more often the last I saw Khalid Ibrahim was in 2013. After that, he was nowhere to be seen,” said Jeffrey, a poultry seller from a wet market in Port Klang.
(Former Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is the Port Klang state assemblyman.)
Not only Khalid Ibrahim, people here also claim to have not seen their member of parliament, Charles Santiago, either.
But this does not mean that they are unhappy with Pakatan Harapan (PH) or their leaders.
“I am actually happy with state policies, and in fact, any complaints we lodge will be addressed quickly. It is just that we want to see our leaders more often than just during the election period,” said Mohd Noor Dol, another poultry seller at the wet market.
Since 2008, the Klang parliamentary seat and both of its state seats, namely Pandamaran and Kota Alam Shah, have been with the DAP.
In fact, DAP’s support, in terms of voters majority increased in the Kota Alam Shah and Pandamaran state seats from the 2008 to the 2013 general election.
A similar trend, however, was not seen for PKR in the Port Klang state seat.
Port Klang could swing either way
In 2008, Badrul Hisham Abdullah won the seat with over 4,000 votes in a three-cornered fight under the PKR ticket against Umno’s Roselinda Abdul Jamil and independent candidate Nazir Mansor.
Midway through his term, Badrul Hisham jumped ship to Umno.
In the 2013 general election, Khalid Ibrahim was fielded to wrest the seat back from Umno’s Datuk Nasarruddin M. Zin in a straight fight.
Khalid won with a 18,591 majority but this win for PKR did not last long either.
About a year later, Khalid was expelled from PKR and he lost his position as Mentri Besar to Datuk Seri Azmin Ali. PKR lost the Port Klang seat, again.
The infighting and politicking within the Opposition front, however, does not seem to affect voter sentiment much.
“We are still seeing improvement. If there is a problem in this district and when we lodge a complaint, it will be looked into quickly,” a vegetable seller, who only wanted to be known as Deng, said.
Deng, who has been running his business in the district for over 20 years, said the infighting within PKR and PH has not really affected the people in Port Klang.
“The only problem I would say is we don’t see Khalid Ibrahim in our area much but he solves our problems. There is just no human touch, if you know what I mean,” he said.
“But I think the election is nearing because I see PKR and Umno leaders on the ground almost every day these days but not Khalid Ibrahim,” Deng added.
Like Deng, Jeffrey said they have no problems with Khalid, but stressed that their vote would go to the man or woman who visits them more often.
“Whether he [or she] is from PKR or Umno, we would want someone who comes to visit us more often,” Jeffrey said.
Voters in the area, however, emphasised that they were happy with state policies, thus, indicating that they were satisfied with the current Selangor administration that is led by PKR, DAP and PAS.
“I am good and happy with everything that has taken place in Port Klang. The roads are good, infrastructure is developing and I see many initiatives for low-cost homes as well,” Port Klang’s Asa Niaga Harbour City director Azrin Shaari said.
The only “problem” many people mentioned was a faulty traffic light at the intersection of Jalan Kem and Persiaran Raja Muda Musa.
“To be honest, I cannot think of any other problem under his (Khalid) leadership,” Azrin said.
Apparently the faulty traffic light has been an ongoing issue for the past two months and has been causing massive traffic jams during rush hour.
Klang, Kota Alam Shah and Pandamaran to remain as DAP strongholds
In Kota Alam Shah and Pandamaran, voters more or less regard DAP as their “saviour” because of development initiatives that have improved their livelihood.
Although leaders in both constituencies changed between the 2008 and 2013 general election, the party bagged a greater win under current leaders, V. Ganabatirau and Eric Tan Pok Shyong, in Kota Alam Shah and Pandamaran.
Ganabatirau won with an increased majority of 13,369 votes in a four-cornered fight while Tan also won with an increased majority of 9,176 votes in a similar four-cornered fight in Pandamaran.
“I have no problems with Ganabatirau or the way things are going in this area. I may not see Ganabatirau often but complaints we make with regards to rubbish and anything else are addressed quickly,” Michelle from Palm Grove said.
The activist said even if Ganabatirau was replaced, she would still cast her vote for DAP in the area.
Like Michelle, Yong, who sells honey at the morning market in Taman Chi Liung, said he will support DAP regardless if the candidate is Ganabatirau or not.
“I have been running my small business at this morning market here for almost eight years and I have no issues with the current administration so I will vote in Ganabatirau or any other DAP candidate in this area,” the 48-year-old said.
Similar to Kota Alam Shah, Lingam, a resident in Pandamaran, said Barisan Nasional (BN) or MCA will have no chance to wrest the seat from DAP.
“This (Pandamaran) is a fortress of DAP. MCA should just save their money and not bother contesting in Pandamaran.
“Let this seat be a walkover for DAP because residents here are not going to give BN another chance,” the 52-year-old said.
Another resident in Pandamaran, who only wanted to be known as Lee, said DAP has a firm footing in the district and the hearts of its voters.
“I am happy with Eric [Tan] as he sees us when we have a problem. He doesn’t really turun padang but that is not really a problem as long we, the voters, are not neglected when there is a problem,” the hawker stall owner said, using the Malay phrase for “going down to the ground”.
Charles Santiago might not be around, but he’s the favourite
Voters might not see their Klang MP often but that does not mean he stands a lesser chance of defending the seat.
“We are very happy with him and we understand that although he makes very little walkabout to visit his constituents, he fights for our rights in Parliament,” Navin Kumar said.
The 31-year-old described Charles as a “vocal leader” and “a leader who is friendly on the ground.”
“He is the friendliest person when you meet him on the ground and an intelligent leader, I must say,” another resident from Klang said.
Unlike some parliamentarians, the public relations consultant said, Charles showed exceptional understanding about economics while being modest about it.
“How many MPs do you see out there who is intelligent and at the same time down to earth? Not many, right?
“Charles [Santiago] is very much loved among voters here so I am sure if DAP allows him to contest here for a third term, he will win big,” the 32-year-old said.
Charles beat MCA’s Teh Kim Poo with a whopping 24,685-vote majority in the last election.