HULU LANGAT: Strange as it may seem, villagers in Sungai Lalang and neighbouring areas in Semenyih, including estates, are not interested in more development.
Rather, they want an improvement to their quality of life, saying they miss how Semenyih used to be peaceful and not congested with heavy vehicles.
Hajah Rahmah, 70, said Semenyih had become a well-developed township and, therefore, there was no need for more development.
“I think we are comfortable with how it is now. More development in this township, it would only mean more outsiders. More outsiders mean higher crime rates and social problems.
“I know Pakatan Harapan promised development, but we don’t need it for now. What we need is to be able to afford a decent meal on the table, and that, we are finding, is harder to fulfill each day as prices of goods are not going down.
“The younger ones are still able to venture out of Semenyih to make ends meet, but what about senior citizens like me?” she asked.
Azila Mohamad Ali, 49, met at a local restaurant on Jalan Sg Lalang, pointed out that there was enough development in Semenyih. Villagers were happy and did not want any more housing projects or factories to be set up, she said.
“Semenyih is a small town, and we have been facing terrible traffic congestion. If you don’t believe me, take a drive through the Semenyih town during rush hours, you’d feel like you are in Kuala Lumpur.
“What we need now is for a good assemblyman to upkeep these roads, improve infrastructure, schools, places of worship and medical facilities.
“People seem to think that Semenyih is backward, forgotten and not developed. They are wrong. Back in the days, yes, but it is no longer a ‘cowboy town’, not since 20 years ago, when they started setting up factories here.
“Luxury bungalows have also populated Semenyih in the last two years. People buy them as a weekend house, for them to get away from the city life, ” she said.
A faithful Barisan Nasional (BN) supporter, Azila had voted for the coalition four times since she became an eligible voter.
“In the last general election, a lot of my friends voted for PH. They told me that PH was able to do many things for us.
“But look what has happened? Nine months later, what they have promised us, they have not done. The assemblyman from PPBM, he was hardly here. At least the previous assemblyman, he came to see us often and was easily reachable.
“We don’t want an assemblyman who doesn’t come to the ground. He needs to be approachable, to help us solve our problems,” she said.
As for Haliza Mohamad, 47, she recalled the late Bakhtiar Mohd Nor’s promise to build a new mosque for the villagers.
“It is unfortunate that he passed away, but he could have fulfilled his promise after he won the election last year.
“We have been waiting. But instead of a mosque coming up, it was grass that has grown on the plot of land where he identified for a mosque to be built,” she said.
Haliza added that there was a sense of regret among some villagers who had, for their very first time, voted for PH in the 14th general election (GE14).
She added that many had voted for a PH candidate, not for more development to be brought into Semenyih, but to improve the villagers’ quality of life, especially to remove the burden of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which was introduced by the former BN administration.
“We didn’t even know who he (Bakhtiar) was, we just wanted the cost of living to improve. They told us it was because of the former prime minister Najib Razak and we believed them. But we’re not so sure now.
“We don’t understand what this Sales and Services Tax (SST) is all about, but what we are sure about is that prices of essential goods are still high after it was introduced last year,” said Haliza, who has made up her mind to vote for the BN candidate in the by-election scheduled for March 2.
Meanwhile, Norazah Abd Aziz, 45, revealed that after GE14, the village chief of Sungai Machang, where she stays, was changed.
“The moment PH won, they changed our village chiefs to someone who was from their party. We don’t mind the change, but what good is the change if the new village chief is never around. The previous village chief organised a lot of activities and was always reachable whenever we needed help.
“I won’t be voting for PH this by-election. We have given them enough time to prove that they are different,” she said.
Norazah explained that a village chief in each village held very important responsibilities, including signing off forms for school book loans and household financial aid.
Meanwhile, Hassan Abu Bakar, 40, from Kampung Pasir Baru said, he would vote for the PH candidate because Selangor was under PH and villagers could, therefore, expect better attention.
The Semenyih state constituency had been an Umno stronghold until GE14. According to Hassan, PH had won because of the nationwide sentiment against BN.
“There was too much negativity tagged to Najib. Plus, right up until 1995, Mahathir (Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad) was still the prime minister.
“When we heard that he will become the prime minister again if PH won the general election, we saw hope. Villagers have been suffering from high cost of living after Najib took over.
“The assemblyman we voted for also came from the same party as Mahathir. So that was a push for those sitting on the fence to vote for PH,” he said.
Ros Adlina Yaakob, 55, said, the only reason why BN lost in the GE14, was because many of the villagers who were BN supporters wanted to teach the former administration a lesson.
Ros said due to the “non-action” of Bakthiar over the last nine months, PH had a lot of work to do to convince those who once voted for it to continue giving support.
“We are not expecting PH to perform miracles, but at least show the people that you care and remember those who voted for you. We hadn’t seen him around since after May 9. Now he’s gone,” she added.
The Semenyih by-election was triggered by the death of incumbent assemblyman Bakthiar of PPBM.
He won a four-cornered contest in the GE14 with an 8,964 vote majority.
In last year’s general election, Bakhtiar received 23,428 votes to defeat the BN candidate Johan Abd Aziz who garnered 14,464 votes, and candidates from PAS (6,966 votes) and PSM (1,293 votes).
The Semenyih state constituency is part of the Hulu Langat parliamentary constituency.
The by-election will see a four-cornered fight between PH’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali, BN’s Zakaria Hanafi, PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul, and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng.