Inspired by UK stint, Zul looks to boost tourism in Padang Rengas

Zulkarnine Hashim says Padang Rengas has beautiful hills and rivers which have not been publicised to draw tourists.


PADANG RENGAS: PPBM’s Lubok Merbau candidate Zulkarnine Hashim is going into the May 9 polls, armed with ideas to boost tourism in Padang Rengas.

The tranquil Lubok Merbau is part of the Padang Rengas constituency, home to none other than Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz.

But Zulkarnine, who is more commonly known as Zul, claims Nazri hasn’t done as much as he could for tourism in Padang Rengas and believes he can do much more.

“Padang Rengas has beautiful hills and rivers. But for most outsiders, the only thing they know about Padang Rengas is Nazri Aziz.”

The 47-year-old told FMT his 15 years in the UK, where he had studied, worked and opened a Malay-Thai restaurant, had exposed him to ideas for improving tourism in the area.

“I came back to Malaysia because I wanted to help defeat Prime Minister Najib Razak.”

The ardent Manchester United fan says he also wants to push for the modernisation of agriculture in Lubok Merbau, one of the main economic activities here, to maximise the industry’s potential.

Zulkarnine, who now runs a chain of private Islamic preschools, said it was crucial to develop tourism and agriculture because there weren’t enough jobs in the area.

The father of four, who is originally from Klang, said PPBM could win the state seat although he acknowledged the split in Malay votes due to the three-way contest among Pakatan Harapan (PH), Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS was a problem.

In the 2013 general election (GE13), PAS’ Mohd Zainudin Mohd Yusof fell agonisingly short of 53 votes against BN’s Siti Salmah Mat Jusak.

This time around, the contest for Lubok Merbau will see fresh faces from all parties, as Zulkarnine will square off against BN’s Jurij Jalaludin and PAS’ Azizi Mohamed Ridzuwan.

“In GE13, PAS had some 1,000 members in Lubok Merbau but received more than 6,000 votes. That means there are 5,000 fence-sitters,” said Zulkarnine.

“If we can get most of the Chinese and Indian votes, and they account for around 20% of the over 16,000 voters, then we need to get another 30% of the Malay vote to win.”

He said he believes issues such as the goods and services tax, as well as the reconciliation between Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim, will push votes to PH.

“These leaders have buried the hatchet and this will help us. Both leaders are respected.

“Those who had issues with Anwar may not support the opposition and those who support Mahathir are now with the opposition.”

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