‘Just catering to hipsters won’t win Shah Alam for Umno’

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PETALING JAYA: It will take more than providing services to a targeted hipster culture for Umno to wrest back the Shah Alam parliamentary seat.

According to political analyst Jeniri Amir, it would be a “very challenging” task for Umno to win back Shah Alam as many factors came into play.

He said the party’s leaders needed to be seen as those who cared for the citizens and were not “aloof”.

“Even then, there’s no guarantee that they can win (in Shah Alam) as the people might want a government of check-and-balance.

“Then again, they might just be anti-establishment or are just among the people who want to change the government of the day,” he told FMT.

He was commenting on Umno Vice-President Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s call for Umno divisional leaders to provide services tailored to the hipster culture to wrest back Shah Alam from the current state government.

Zahid had said the hipster cultural wave triggered in the 1990s had brought a change in lifestyle of the middle-class society, which made up the majority of urban residents.

He urged divisional leaders to use the hipster culture strategy to wrest back the Shah Alam parliamentary seat from the Opposition.

The sitting two-term Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad, was with PAS and is now with Amanah.

Jeniri, however, added that it was still important for any political party to understand the needs and wants of the urban youth. Approaches needed to be taken in tandem with the psychological changes of these youths.

Universiti Malaya Associate Professor and political analyst Awang Azman Awang Pawi echoed Jeniri’s sentiment that there were many other factors that came into play when it came to Umno’s attempt at winning back Shah Alam.

“The rising cost of living, the 1MDB issue, which is considered by many to be controversial, as well as the public’s perception about the integrity and transparency of governance are all issues.

“These issues are still prevailing in the minds of the rakyat, what more the youth. Efforts to solve these issues are no less important when it comes to regaining the confidence of Shah Alam citizens,” he told FMT.

Awang Azman conceded that “charming” the youth was a good first step but added that there were still many other things that needed to be done.

Shah Alam MP Khalid told FMT that the Selangor state government as well as issues affecting the nation had a direct bearing on the lifestyle and voting habits of residents.

“If they (Umno leaders) plan to win back Shah Alam, then they have to wrest the state government.”

Khalid said Umno, when it was governing the state, was not known to be a party that took care of the people in Selangor.

He said that on the federal level, Shah Alam voters wanted their representative to speak out against corruption.

“I don’t see how they are going to be able to win Shah Alam back when they are still in support of a corrupt administration. They have got to revamp the whole philosophy of Umno, which is one of feudalism and one where the rakyat has got to keep quiet and follow the leader.”

Khalid claimed that Zahid had not even been able to fully win the hearts of the citizens in his Bagan Datoh parliamentary seat in Perak.

“Umno hasn’t even managed to get the full support of those in Perak. Back in the 2004 General Election (GE11), Umno may have had a huge majority in Perak but in the 2008 General Election (GE12) and the 2013 General Election (GE13), we saw that the Opposition was very strong there.”

Zahid was able to retain his parliamentary seat of Bagan Datoh in GE13 for the fifth term but with a decreased majority of 53%, compared with a 75% majority in GE11. In GE12, Zahid had won with a 54% majority.

“They (Umno members) are not cut out for the service kind of politics. They are cut out for the ‘fear and racial segregation’ kind of politics.”

Read earlier report:

Win over the urban ‘hipster’ class, Zahid urges Umno