AMPANG, Nov 16 — Fifteen years and three political parties later, so-called Ibu Bangsa Malaysia Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin still resonates with her Ampang constituents, a factor that could see her trumping eight other candidates vying for the coveted Ampang parliamentary constituency in the 15th general election.
One of the main players of the so-called 'Sheraton Move' that brought down the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in 2020, Zuraida quit PKR then to join Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), before settling for Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) earlier this year.
But despite joining her third party since 2018, the familiarity and support that helped the three-term Ampang incumbent get elected in 2008 still remains intact as was evident during a walkabout in Taman Kosas, Bandar Baru Ampang recently.
Despite joining her third party since 2018, the familiarity and support that helped the three-term Ampang incumbent get elected in 2008 still remains intact as was evident during a walkabout in Taman Kosas, Bandar Baru Ampang recently. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Zuraida, however, has her work cut out for her in correcting the perception among those who put her into power of their “misplaced support” and convincing them to vote for her instead of her former ally-turned-rivals Pakatan Harapan.
“So far so good, they recognise me as the existing MP and I have been working very hard here for the past 15 years.
“They are very familiar with me. Of course, with my new party, I have to work hard to introduce my (new) logo so they are not confused,” Zuraida told Malay Mail after the walkabout on Wednesday.
She remarked that some of the eligible voters had the impression she was still in her former party, a view Zuraida aims to change in her favour by Polling Day on November 19.
Zuraida won her Ampang seat in the 2008 general election representing PKR, defeating her predecessor Azman Wahid from Barisan Nasional with a majority of 3,676 votes.
She successfully defended the seat in both the 2013 and 2018 general elections with increased majorities of 13,278 and 41,956 respectively.
Party flags and banners pictured around Ampang November 11, 2022. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Since 2018, following Zuraida’s entry into PBM, the Ampang seat has been thrown in the spotlight as her departure from Bersatu meant it was also going after her seat, as was PH that was out to reclaim all the constituencies lost to “traitors” in the 'Sheraton Move'.
According to the Election Commission (EC), a total of 133,494 voters are eligible to cast their vote, an increase of 41,757 from the previous general election held in May 2018.
In fact, those who were met also expressed detachment towards Zuraida’s part in the 'Sheraton Move', suggesting that votes in Ampang would likely be split along those voting for “personality instead party lines”.
For first-time Ampang voter Bryan Mu, the 23-year-old said he would “likely” vote for Zuraida due to the latter’s friendliness and familiarity.
“Before this, I got to know her through Facebook. Yes, I am aware of what she did during ‘Sheraton Move’ but I will probably still vote for her,” Mu, who works at his family’s locksmith shop, said when met.
Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin talks to Bryan Mu, who runs a locksmith shop during her walkabout in Taman Kosas, Ampang November 9, 2022. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Another Ampang voter, Soraya Mashuri from Taman Lembah Jaya said she had only just found out recently that Zuraida had switched parties but is aware of the latter as the incumbent MP.
“I just found out actually. Last time she was with PKR, right? I do know for a fact she frequently visits the constituency because I saw her the other day,” she said after Zuraida had earlier approached her as part of the walkabout.
Couple Rabiatul Adawiah and Abdul Farios Ismail from Pangsapuri Seri Nilam, Bandar Baru Ampang both noted that Zuraida as an MP possessed considerable support both here and outside of Ampang.
“Near Port Dickson where I am voting also there is support for her and her party. The whole of Malaysia knows her,” Abdul Farios, an Army veteran said.
“Though I am not really interested in politics, my relatives do talk about her (Zuraida) a lot and I can see she has a lot of support here as well,” Rabiatul added.
Abdul Farios Ismail from Pangsapuri Seri Nilam, Bandar Baru Ampang noted that Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin as an MP possessed considerable support both here and outside of Ampang. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Marketing executive Marshita Madzalan said it was her belief that one should support a candidate instead of the contesting party, since the candidate would ultimately serve the constituents that elected them to power.
This, she said, was the reason why Zuraida has her support despite having switched political parties.
“It doesn’t matter (which party). So long as one can perform.
“For Zuraida, she is indeed well known around here and she does her work as an MP,” the Ampang native said.
Ampang will see a nine-cornered contest in GE15, with Zuraida, facing Ivone Low Yi Wen of Barisan Nasional (MCA), Sasha Lyna Abdul Latif of Perikatan Nasional (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia), Bryan Lai Wai Chong of Parti Warisan, Nurul Ashikin Mabahwi of Gerakan Tanah Air (Parti Pejuang Tanah Air) and Rodziah Ismail of PH (PKR).
Three other independents, namely Tan Hua Meng, M. Raveen and Muhammad Shafiq Izwan Mohd Yunos have also thrown their hats into the ring.