Amanah MP questions fuss over ‘local’ reps

Amanah’s Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud says the real challenge lies in solving a constituency’s problems, not the time it takes to identify them.

PETALING JAYA: Kota Raja incumbent Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud has hit out at those who say only locals should contest in the coming polls, saying there are more important things to consider when choosing a candidate.

“The most important thing is whether the candidate can perform and whether he or she has what it takes to be an MP,” she told FMT.

Her comments followed a Sinar Harian report that Selangor Amanah election director Jaafar Samsudin had quit the party because its leaders refused to field a “local” candidate for the Kota Raja parliamentary seat.

Jaafar was the Kota Raja Amanah division chief.

Siti Mariah said the only arguments had by those who wanted locals as MPs was that such people apparently understood local problems better than outsiders, and that it would be easier for them to get more votes.

“But you don’t need years to know a constituency’s problems. A month, maybe two, that’s enough.

“The real challenge is in solving these problems.”

Siti Mariah, who was born in Kedah, said the issue of a local candidate was not raised when she first contested for Kota Raja.

“I was not a Kota Raja native in 2004, but PAS fielded me here as they needed women candidates.

“At that time, it was considered an ‘unwinnable’ seat for PAS.

“I also heard gossip on the ground that some PAS members were sceptical about whether I could do the job because I was a woman.

“They also said Kota Raja was a ‘hard’ seat as it was made up of both rural and urban voters. But when I worked hard and won the seat in 2008 and 2013, there was no complaint from anyone anymore.”

In 2008, Siti Mariah defeated Barisan Nasional’s (BN) S Vigneswaran with a whopping 20,000-vote majority.

In 2013, she increased that majority by another 9,000 votes despite a four-cornered fight for the seat.

Siti Mariah said at the end of the day, party members who advocated local candidates only seemed to be hurting themselves.

“What if Cikgu Jaafar was chosen to contest in Meru?

“Meru may have been his kampung at one time but he doesn’t live in Meru any more.

“In the end, you exclude yourself from being sent to seats which may be in areas where you are not a local.”

She also asked why Jaafar found it so hard to support whoever was chosen to contest the seat.

“If I, who had to fight for the seat in three consecutive elections and won in the last two, could make way for others, why not Jaafar?”

Rumour is rife that Amanah president Mohamad Sabu will contest in Kota Raja while Mariah may be given either another parliamentary seat or a state seat.

Siti Mariah said Amanah acknowledged Jaafar’s contributions and still hoped he would change his mind about leaving.

“We all hope he will be around when PH wins Selangor again as we know that he will be able to contribute meaningfully, insyaAllah.”

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