Perikatan election chief Sanusi plays down academic prowess as Sungai Bakap contest kicks off

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 — Perikatan Nasional (PN) election director Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor today dismissed having high academic qualifications as a must for those who want to hold public office.

Instead, he said experience trumped paper qualifications and touted Abidin Ismail, the PN candidate for the Sungai Bakap state by-election in Penang, as the better man for the job.

“This is the people’s candidate, he sat down to work with the previous assemblyperson, Abang Zam,” Sanusi, who is also Kedah menteri besar, was quoted by news portal Malaysiakini as telling reporters in Nibong Tebal, Penang after the Election Commission announced a straight fight between PN and Pakatan Harapan (PH) for the state seat.

He said that Abidin, who was the former special officer to the late Sungai Bakap assemblyman Nor Zamri Latiff, who was the former Sungai Bakap assemblyperson, is the right candidate.

Sanusi was responding to critics who disparaged Abidin for holding a lesser academic qualification compared to the PH candidate Joohari Ariffin, a former educator and a PhD holder.

Sanusi played down high paper qualifications as a necessary requirement to represent the interest of voters.

“Many highly educated people – doctors, professors – fail in politics.

“Politics is not sitting in an office like how we work with departments, we have to get down to the bottom of various issues, we have to understand socio-politics, socioeconomics and so on.

“(Questions on) academics, it doesn’t help. Many political leaders do not have any qualifications, but are intellectuals because of what is in here (mind),” he was quoted as saying.

He was also reportedly asked if he meant that a politician does not require a high level of education.

“Academic qualifications must go with other aspects. Academic qualifications alone do not guarantee political excellence.

“But you have to have an academic qualification, you have to know how to read and write as well,” he was quoted as saying.

He was then asked if election candidates with just primary level education could be considered.

“Provocative question, please answer yourself. Please end the question, it’s all provocation,” he was quoted as saying.

PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, who was also present for the nomination of Sungai Bakap by-election candidates, said he is confident that the current issues will help the PN candidate win.

“Our candidate was an assistant to the people’s representative before. He has the people’s support.

“There are a lot of national issues now that affect the people, and that will help us,” Abdul Hadi was quoted as saying by the same news portal.

Campaigning for the Sungai Bakap seat officially starts today.

Polling day is on July 6.