By D. Kanyakumari
BAGAN DATUK: Although victory seems assured for Barisan Nasional in Bagan Datuk, local people say they are now divided over their sentiments for the ruling coalition.
After having returned Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to Parliament five times in a row before, residents in the otherwise quiet constituency in Perak told FMT that they “may pledge” further support if Zahid was sincere in keeping to his promises and there was sustained development.
Restaurant owner Yew Yee said there was rapid development at present, but it seemed to be only due to the elections.
“Let them make sustainable policies that will eventually allow my children to come back and work and live here prosperously,” he said. “I am 60 and I still have to work to maintain my life here while the young ones are forced to leave this place to find a proper income elsewhere,” said the father of six.
He believes the sentiment is shared by other people.
“People may say I feel this way because I am Chinese and those from other communities have better benefits. But that is not true. We are all struggling,” he said.
P. Arasu, 41, a mechanic said many people in Bagan Datuk liked Zahid as a person and not because of his party. Zahid is Umno vice-president and Barisan Nasional deputy chairman.
“He’s a good person. He always comes to the ground and he’s never made us feel discriminated due to race,” Arasu said. “But I cannot say the same for the party he represents.”
He said he had sent his two children to live with relatives in Ipoh because they would not otherwise be able to progress in their education in Bagan Datuk.
He wanted his children to achieve their aspirations, his daughter of becoming a doctor and his son to study criminology.
“Such things are unheard of over here. But I don’t blame anybody. It is just that this is not the place to be if you want to give your children such opportunities,” he said.
Mat Pin (not his real name), 30, who works at an agro-bazaar in Bagan Datuk, said that although BN might remain victorious in the constituency, there would be a large shift of voters away from the coalition.
“I can tell. I have been talking to my neighbours and friends, even my family. If Datuk Seri (Zahid) wins, it’s because of who he is and not because of his party,” he said.
In his sixth contest, Zahid will be challenged by Pakhurrazi Arshad (PKR), Ata Abdul Muneim Hasan Adli (PAS) and Ibrahim Mat Zin, an independent candidate. In 2013, Zahid was returned with a majority of 2,108 votes against PKR’s Mahdi Hasan.