As walls close in, Zuraida dons ‘Ibu Bangsa Malaysia’ mantle for Ampang defence

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

AMPANG, Nov 4 — So-called Ibu Bangsa Malaysia and three-term incumbent Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin launched the election machinery to defend her Ampang seat last night, this time to fanfare from Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM).

By supporters in her latest party, Zuraida was crowned the “Mother of Malaysians”, taking a page from Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s playbook from when he styled himself as the country’s Abah, a Malay term of endearment for “father”, during his stint as prime minister.

One of the main players of the so-called “Sheraton Move” that brought down the Pakatan Harapan government in 2020, Zuraida quit PKR then to join Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, before settling for PBM earlier this year.

But despite joining her third party since 2018, what Zuraida insisted she was not changing was her Ampang federal constituency.

“I am offering myself to remain as MP for Ampang to continue serving the constituents here.

“Do you know the importance of winning this seat? This victory will serve as a symbol of strength, principle and new politics championed by PBM,” she said to loud cheers of attendees who watched her speech on a makeshift stage set up underneath a ramp of the newly-built Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Elevated Expressway (SUKE).

Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (front, centre) poses with supporters at the Parti Bangsa Malaysia election machinery launch in Ampang on November 3, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (front, centre) poses with supporters at the Parti Bangsa Malaysia election machinery launch in Ampang on November 3, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (front, centre) poses with supporters at the Parti Bangsa Malaysia election machinery launch in Ampang on November 3, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Despite running an hour late, Zuraida’s celebrity-like appearance still elicited loud cheers and roars from those present, who proceeded to proudly proclaim her as Ibu Bangsa Malaysia.

As she was ushered to the main stage to give her speech, Zuraida then delighted the crowd with a karaoke rendition of the party’s anthem, Majulah Bangsa Malaysia.

In her speech to officiate the party’s election machinery, Zuraida cited her achievements as Ampang MP for almost 15 years and expressed confidence that the seasoned workers would lead a successful campaign.

Some 160 people clad in the party’s signature purple were present during last night’s event held near Ampang Waterfront, a row of commercial shop lots situated by the banks of the Klang River.

“I am not running anywhere. This is my fourth time seeking re-election. The Ampang people have taught me how to be an efficient and effective minister.

“I am proud of the people in Ampang. I will do my best!” Zuraida exclaimed to loud cheers from the crowd again.

Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) supporters wave flags at the party’s election machinery launch in Ampang on November 3, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) supporters wave flags at the party’s election machinery launch in Ampang on November 3, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM) supporters wave flags at the party’s election machinery launch in Ampang on November 3, 2022. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Despite the welcome last night, Zuraida’s road to defending Ampang has not been all smooth.

After announcing her resignation as the plantation industries and commodities minister, which was never accepted, she dumped Bersatu to officially join PBM that was already rumoured to be a vehicle for some of the former PKR lawmakers who took part in the “Sheraton Move”.

Once in PBM, she quickly went from president-designate to president proper and tried to bring the party into Barisan Nasional, seeking to convince the former ruling coalition to let all her party’s incumbents defend their seats on its ticket.

But before this could happen, Larry Sng — whom she was supposed to have replaced as president — triggered a power struggle when he insisted that he never left the post and remained the rightful office-holder.

Although this dispute now appeared resolved, the delay saw BN proceeding to announce its candidate list sans PBM. Instead of contesting for BN, she must now contest against it.

Similarly, 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.”

As such, Zuraida’s election machinery launched last night will have its work cut out, as she will at least face BN’s Ivone Low Yi Wen (MCA), Perikatan Nasional’s Sasha Lyna Abdul Latif (Bersatu), PH’s Rodziah Ismail (PKR), and Parti Warisan’s Bryan Lai Wai Chong.

In the 14th general election, Zuraida retained her Ampang seat with a 41,956 majority, almost triple what she obtained in the previous poll.