Politics is all about hard work, having a likeable personality, dynamic oratory skills, good breeding and if it comes with decent looks and a top-notch academic background, then that politician has his career cut out for him. BN’s new kid on the candidate block, Isham Jalil, seems to have that package!
Yesterday I had the pleasure of following BN’s Hizatul Isham Abdul Jalil (Isham Jalil) on his campaign trail in Shah Alam, unbeknownst to him and his team. Mind you, this was his maiden entry into the world of electoral politics, first time contesting in an election. And what an entry! GE15 – the stepmother of all elections – and in Pakatan Harapan (PH) territory, Shah Alam, to boot.
It is said that this P108 Shah Alam constituency is one that no one in BN wants, just for the very fact that it has been held by Khalid Samad of PH for three consecutive terms with a majority of slightly over 33,000 votes garnered during GE14.
Nevertheless, what separates the men from the boys is the ability to take on a challenge that no one else wants. I think by this very fact alone, the 46-year old Isham is looked on by the BN voters in his constituency as anak jantan (son of a man) and has in itself garnered him some good number of votes, I’m sure.
For the purposes of those readers who are not from Malaysia, it is worth noting that Shah Alam city is the state capital of Selangor, situated within the Petaling District and bordering the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and the Klang District. It replaced Kuala Lumpur as the capital city of the state of Selangor in 1978, due to Kuala Lumpur’s incorporation into a Federal Territory in 1974.
Enough about its geographical history. What makes this once sleepy, Malays-only habitat a constituency to look out for this GE15 is that it has a large number of new voters – 60,000 to be exact – as a result of the automatic voter registration of which the bill was passed recently.
For GE15, Isham faces three contenders, namely Amanah’s Azli Yusof, Pejuang’s Mohd Rafique Rashid Ali and Bersatu’s Dr Afif Bahardin.
However, Isham is literally a new kid on the block when it comes to the constituency. Prior to this, he has been servicing the Sg Buloh constituency with the thought that he might be fielded there for GE15. When the names were announced by BN President Zahid Hamidi on 01 Nov, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was given the slot, moving from his comfort zone of Rembau parliamentary constituency, which is now taken up by Mohamad Hassan, the BN Deputy President.
With this challenge accepted, Isham embarked on a non-stop campaign trail which would probably leave other candidates exhausted. Yesterday alone his program comprised visiting 21 places with the third last activity being an Intellectual Dialogue with some very interesting panelists and an audience comprising professionals and long-term BN voters in the constituency who wanted to get to know more about him.
At that dialogue too I saw the mettle that Isham has which will stand him in good stead when he wins and becomes a member of Parliament.
Politics of Positivity
His campaign tagline, #PolitikPositif (positive politics) is something that many electoral candidates fail miserably at, especially those from the opposition bloc, ie PH, PN and GTA, who seem to engage in personal attacks on BN and recycling fake news for the sake of sensationalism and getting votes.
Frankly, I think voters are tired of rhetorics and sensationalism. Today, they are looking for solutions on what can the candidates do for them to stabilise the country’s economy and policies to reduce unemployment. Bread and butter issues continue to have strong emphasis among not only the B40 community, but those in the M40 group, after going through two years of the pandemic and four years of political instability.
For Shah Alam constituents, top on their minds are the massive floods during rainy periods due to poor drainage and maintenance, as well as escalating housing prices.
It is fair to note that of the 165,774 registered voters, 55% are within the 18-39 age group. This means that issues that take centrestage are affordable housing for those who have just started working and Isham wants to be the enabler for youths to partake in SMEs and provide more job opportunities for the others.
After the Dialogue last night, one of Isham’s followers disclosed that while he is popular with the Umno folks, the non-Malay community, which make up about 26 per cent of the total number of voters in the constituency are not that familiar with him. To address that, his focus is on inclusivity, where he wants to bring forth social-economic stability for all communities in Shah Alam, among other things.
isham was recently interviewed by a Chinese-based online channel and they were extremely surprised at how forthcoming he was as they did not expect this to come from an Umno candidate. The words of the hosts: About 95% of our viewers do not like Umno.
However, Isham’s personality shone through during that interview, giving a good plug for him and Umno at the same time with such positive comments from the viewers. Since he is carrying the flag for Umno, being a member of the Supreme Council, he has certainly done a good job for the party.
So does Isham Jalil have what it takes to be the perfect Parliament representative for the people of Shah Alam? We will only know this Saturday if they will vote for this double Masters degree holder from both Harvard University and the Wharton School. The first in Public Policy (Political Economy) and the other in Finance.
It is ironical that this writer bumped across his parents and sibling without realising who they were last night. His parents and I went to the wrong venue to listen to the dialogue, and after we realised our mistake, they invited me to hop into their car to the right venue nearby, without even knowing who I was.
I guess good breeding is among one of the qualities one should have to make a good politician. I hope the voters of Shah Alam will do the right thing come 19 Nov as this is a crucial election, bearing in mind that the global recession will be hitting our shores soon. – NMH
About the writer: Carole Raymond Abdullah is a freelance writer who used to domicile in Hongkong for many years. She is now back in Malaysia, totally surprised at the turn of events in the country lately.
The points expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the stand of the New Malaysia Herald.