AMPANG, Nov 6 — Demonstrating that friendship transcends one’s political differences, Parti Warisan’s Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat and Pakatan Harapan’s Rafizi Ramli today shared a moment of camaraderie during their campaign walkabout.
Both Ong and Rafizi had gone to the Taman Muda morning market as part of their campaign walkabout — some two kilometres away from the township of Pandan Indah — to meet with constituents in the Pandan federal seat.
This morning’s walkabout is ostensibly their first morning meet-and-greet session with constituents that kicks off two weeks of campaigning following nominations yesterday.
Rafizi Ramli obliges a member of the public with a photo. — Picture by Choo Choy May
With the market bustling with activities, both candidates strolled through the decades-old market and mingled with vendors plying their wares on the busiest day of the week.
As they interacted with vendors, several were visibly eager and excited to meet both men, suggesting that some of the familiarity that helped them get elected decades ago remained intact.
Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat shakes hands with a trader during his walkabout at the Taman Muda morning market. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Accompanied by their respective entourage, both had to stop in their tracks several times to entertain photo requests from marketgoers and vendors as well.
Much to the amusement of onlookers, in two instances, Ong was also asked to hold up a pineapple in symbolism of “Ong Lai” or the welcoming of good fortune in the Hokkien dialect by members of the public, part of a wordplay of his surname.
With both candidates concluding their visit, Rafizi who was speaking to the media by the road, then gestured to Ong who was standing across the way to come over.
All smiles, both men then shook hands, with Rafizi later expressing his admiration for Ong’s tenure and service as a former Pandan MP for several electoral terms.
“He (Ong) has done a lot for the people of Pandan,” Rafizi told those present.
“Thank you for your kind words,” Ong then replied, clearly touched, as both men parted ways to continue with the remainder of their activity.
Tan Sri Ong Tee Keat during his walkabout at the Taman Muda morning market. — Picture by Choo Choy May— Picture by Choo Choy May
A former transport minister, Ong was a four-term MP for Ampang Jaya from 1990 until 2004, before the constituency was abolished and replaced with Pandan, which he went on to win twice more.
Rafizi, having served as Pandan MP for just a single term from 2013 to 2018, was prevented from seeking re-election due to an undischarged Official Secrets Act (OSA) conviction from one his signature exposés, which landed him with a 30-month prison sentence.
Rafizi Ramli meets constituents during his walkabout at the Taman Muda morning market. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Aside from Parti Warisan’s Ong, Rafizi will face also face Gerakan Tanah Air’s Nadia Hanafiah (Parti Pejuang Tanah Air), Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Leong Kok Wee (MCA) and Perikatan Nasional’s Muhammad Rafique Zubir Albakri (PAS).
In 2013, Rafizi won against Gary Lim Chin Yee — the candidate who replaced Ong — in a three-cornered fight with a 26,729-vote majority.
After he was forced to sit out the 2018 general election, PKR sent in Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail who doubled the party’s majority in a five-cornered fight, beating Leong by a 52,543 majority.