KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — Campaigning for the 15th general election (GE15) might be entering its final leg, but some Sungai Buloh voters are still grappling with the question of who to cast their ballot for.
Sungai Buloh is a contest involving seven candidates, but all eyes are on Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Khairy Jamaluddin and Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Datuk R. Ramanan — who is defending the seat that PKR has held for three terms.
Poon Korhai attends the ‘Sepetang Bersama Pemimpin: Masyarakat Sungai Buloh’ event by Barisan Nasional’s Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein in Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh November 13, 2022. — Picture by Ashley Yeong
A visit to Sungai Buloh by Malay Mail found that voters living further away from the city centre like Kampung Melayu Sungai Buloh remained strong BN supporters.
“Khairy has my support,” a lady who introduced herself as Poon Korhai said.
“The previous MP didn’t do anything for us, I’ve always voted for the BN team,” she said, referring to the incumbent R. Sivarasa who held the seat for one term.
Khairy’s popularity was also reflected in the turnout for his meet-and-greet events and rallies.
Barisan Nasional candidate for Sungai Buloh, Khairy Jamaluddin greeting supporters in Bandar Baru Sg Buloh November 13, 2022. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Meanwhile, some PH supporters are on the fence as they acknowledged that Khairy has contributed to the country but did not want to see Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi become prime minister.
When approached, 64-year-old retiree Liw See Lim was attending an event hosted by the BN candidate in Kampung Baru Sungai Buloh, an area with a relatively high Chinese population.
“It might be tough for him to win here. People in this area of Sungai Buloh don’t really understand the contributions that Khairy has made. As for myself, I’m also still considering who to vote for.
“I’m in a dilemma. Maybe I can only decide on the day itself. But if Zahid was not in the picture, Khairy would definitely have my vote,” Liw said, adding that he does not trust the coalition’s claims that Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob will resume his role as prime minister should it win the election.
Tamie Manic, 44, speaks to Malay Mail in Kota Damansara November 12, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Khairy, who has branded himself as a reformist within Umno, might be able to convince PH voters to switch parties, but other voters believe they can see through his strategy — especially in more affluent neighbourhoods like Kota Damansara.
“If he wanted to clean up (Umno), he should have done that from the start, not telling people now during the elections.
“Telling the people now that he’s going to clean up, be somebody, be future prime minister so that we go for him... no. It is just a tactic to change our mind and vote for him,” Damansara voter Tamie Manic, who was attending a rally by PH’s Ramanan, said.
Tamie said that while she is not a voter in Sungai Buloh, she lives in the area and her daughter’s ballot will go to one of the seven candidates in Sungai Buloh.
“I don’t tell (my children) who to vote for. I will give them the facts — what these ministers did and what they didn’t do — they have to know how to think independently,” the 44-year-old English language tutor told Malay Mail.
“Don’t just look at the party, look at the candidate too and look at what they’re talking about. For example, PH talks a lot about the economy and how they are going to rebuild Malaysia, while other parties are busy giving out laptops and things.
Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stumps for the coalition’s Sungai Buloh candidate Datuk R. Ramanan during PH’s campaign trail in Sungai Buloh, November 16, 2022. —Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
“We want back our Pakatan (Harapan), we want Anwar. Give (Anwar) a chance.”
Sharing similar sentiments, first-time voters Kenneth Lee and Aliah Sham said despite being unfamiliar with PH’s candidate, they are looking at the bigger picture when casting their ballots.
Lee, a 24-year-old engineer, believes that Khairy can do a good job as MP, but he is not OK with PH losing a parliamentary seat to BN.
“KJ as a candidate stood out to me long before he was health minister. In a Parliament where older individuals reigned, KJ stood strong and was not shy to offer his opinions,” the 24-year-old engineer said, referring to Khairy’s moniker.
“I believe he has also steered relatively clear of controversies. But nonetheless, even if he is not part of the ruling party, I believe he will remain of great value to Parliament and the country as a strong Opposition.
“Ramanan seems like a stubborn individual, but he has yet to show his true colours. But if Sivarasa is showing his support for Ramanan, then I should do the same too,” he said.
Aliah Sham, 25, speaks to Malay Mail in Kota Damansara November 12, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Aliah, on the other hand, thinks that the caretaker health minister was only doing his job, as he should.
“He did a lot for our healthcare, but I don’t think he did enough for the servant (healthcare) workers,” the 25-year-old said when attending a political rally here in Kota Damansara.
“I’m not really familiar with the Pakatan candidate for Sungai Buloh so I guess I’m voting for the party.”
When asked to comment about young voters being apathetic about politics, she said young voters are more willing to show their support and voice their opinions online instead of attending physical rallies.
She then urged all young voters to come out and cast their ballots this Saturday.
“At the end of the day, every vote matters no matter whether you care for politics or not. Just vote for someone lah, just show up. That’s the least you can do.”
The Sungai Buloh constituency is a typical urban mixed seat of 66 per cent Malays, 22 per cent Chinese, 11 per cent Indians and 2 per cent other races.
This Saturday, Malaysians will decide the MP for Sungai Buloh and which party has secured enough seats to form the government.