SEMENYIH: At first glance, Semenyih appears much like any other state constituency, bordered by palm oil plantations with the occasional high-rise tower and several new housing developments.
One of these housing areas sports English-style bridges and architecture, with posters from last year still scattered about, welcoming the prime minister to the project launch.
But venture deeper into Semenyih, and the housing developments give way to single-storey houses and shop lots with thatched roofs and peeling paint.
Poor development and the high cost of living has fuelled discontent in many Pakatan Harapan-led states. Several voters in Semenyih whom FMT spoke to earlier this week said PH’s failure to fulfil its election pledges and tackle such issues could affect its performance in the upcoming by-election for the state seat.
But others say Barisan Nasional (BN) is simply the more popular choice, even with the scandals that have been swirling since PH took control of Putrajaya in the May 9 polls last year.
An Indian barber whom FMT spoke to while following BN’s campaign trail said he was “only keeping to tradition” in voting for the coalition, a common response to FMT’s queries on why locals choose to support BN.
He said this was despite being aware of some of the scandals dogging BN top guns.
When asked about former prime minister Najib Razak and the criminal charges against him, however, he refused to respond.
But despite such reservations among some of the voters, Umno Youth vice-chief Shahril Hamdan appears at ease in Semenyih where he is campaigning for BN candidate Zakaria Hanafi.
After a quick hello and introduction, he hands out flyers detailing BN’s goals in the by-election. A handshake and perhaps a selfie later, he is off to the next shop lot with the rest of his campaign team.
A restaurant owner named Rashid told FMT he had supported PAS for a long time now. This time, though, he wants Zakaria to represent him and the rest of the voters in the state assembly. The cost of living is never even brought up in the conversation.
Although he runs another restaurant in Putrajaya as well, business at the Semenyih branch appears quiet. But he doesn’t blame the government for this.
He said he knows only a little about the charges against BN leaders and that the coalition was “smart to move on”. Beyond this, however, he declined to comment.
When met outside a local mosque, Shahril said BN’s performance in the constituency would depend on the next few days as the coalition’s campaign enters its second week.
He added that there was a “rumbling” on the ground, like that which led to the May 9 results.