I don’t really like to interview politicians – they are so guarded when being interviewed. I like to make my own observations and share my thoughts and opinions – whether you agree or not, that’s your choice. It is, after all, a democratic country and on Saturday, Malaysians will vote for their choice of government. As I will be doing in Lembah Pantai
When we first returned to Malaysia after the regime change to Pakatan Harapan in 2018, we were wondering which part of Kuala Lumpur/Petaling Jaya should we reside in. We finally decided that it should be near the husband’s office as that would save him some travelling time, and he can possibly walk there. So it was Bangsar in the Lembah Pantai Parliamentary Constituency that we decided upon.
Then a year ago, some friends asked me how does it feel to be a member of the Bangsar Bubble? Wait, what Bangsar Bubble, never knew there was one. So I Googled and hot damn, found out that the Bangsar Bubble set does not really mean that the person is living in Bangsar!
ThePatriotsAsia coined the term “Bangsar Bubble” to refer to urban Malay groups who to them, do not understand the views of the community as a whole. They go on to explain that the “Bangsar Bubble” comprise of educated, well to do people living in KL City who have it easy compared to the majority of other Malaysians.
So when it comes to issues such as human rights, judicial independence, media freedom, international statutes, and government-linked company reforms, they are the first to rise up and make some noise.
The thread then points out a poll on Twitter that showed support for PH through the roof, but when that same poll was replicated on Facebook, it’s the complete opposite and that it’s due to issues related to Malay identity.
Bangsar Bubble in Lembah Pantai?
So am I part of the Bangsar Bubble set? If based on geographical location, yes, but if based on my political leanings, not so much.
I don’t believe in that nose up in the air kind of attitude, because let’s face it, at the end of the day we are all Malaysians, two years being confined in our homes during the pandemic has proven that no matter how much money, cars and servants you have in your possession, COVID-19 has shown to the world who’s boss. It’s just that when you have these, you have other resources within your reach, compared to others who struggle just to feed their family, among everything else.
And that’s the same scenario in the Parliamentary constituency of Lembah Pantai. On one side we have the rich and famous – generically referred to as the have-haves, and on the other side we have those who fall under the the B40 category, some living below the poverty line and depending on their daily income and government support.
Do the twain meet? Of course. Lembah Pantai is a major constituency that covers Tasik Perdana, Travers, Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bangsar, Lucky Garden, University Malaya area, Pantai Baharu, Bukit Kerinchi, Kg Haji Abdullah Hukum, Kg Pantai Halt, Taman Bukit Angkasa, Pantai Hill Park, Pantai Dalam, Kg Pasir, Petaling Selatan and Taman Sri Sentosa Utara & Selatan.That’s huge.
At the same time, Malays form the majority of the 100k voters there, making up about 60% of the voters in the area, while the Indians make up almost 20%, the Chinese 17%. So with that kind of racial composition, it is no wonder that all the while, the political parties have fielded a Malay candidate to service the area and win the votes.
In terms of age differentiation, the majority of voters are above 21 years of age, almost half of them fall within the 21-40 age group. So it’s a matured group of voters, who know what they like and want from their elected representative.
A few days ago I decided to quietly trail the new candidate for the constituency, former national footballer Ramlan Askolani from BN. Unlike Fahmi, who has held the Lembah Pantai seat since 2018 when he took over the seat from fellow PKR member Nurul Izzah Anwar, who held it for two terms, defeating Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and Raja Nong Chik Zainal Abidin from BN, Ramlan has to work extra hard to earn the trust of his voters.
Prior to PKR getting a hold of Lembah Pantai, BN had successfully defended the urban seat since 1984. Thus Ramlan has a tough nut to crack right there.
Apparently cracked he did. While some may not know of him earlier before he was nominated on 05 Nov, many now refer to him as Ramlan Harimau Malaya (Harimau Malaya is the name of the Malaysian National Football team). Even in his first interview with the Star right after nomination, he spoke about how he wanted to rebuild the football fields that have been left abandoned.
This is definitely a good thing, of course, especially for youths who have more interest in online gaming resulting in a lack of exercise, and for the underprivileged community to have a decent field to enjoy their favourite sport.
On another note, Ramlan’s predecessor in BN, Raja Nong Chik has set the bar high when it comes to servicing the constituency. He is spoken of fondly by many in the Kerinchi flats area as even though he wasn’t their elected representative, he still worked to serve the people here without splitting hairs.
A flat resident meanwhile recalled how Raja Nong Chik, a former federal territories minister, came to distribute aid to every household during the total lockdown imposed in the area at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
With that kind of yardstick, Ramlan seems to have fared well as he went on his campaign trail to win the hearts and minds of the people of his constituency.
Interestingly, the PPR and Kerinchi flat residents appear pleased with his effort to help them whenever they call for his help with issues as he was always responsive.
When I asked a couple about to have a meal at Bangsar Village whether they have heard of him, they said they have, although initially they were not sure about this candidate. And then their son showed them a video where he encouraged his team to campaign decently, to be careful of their thoughts and words and not to hurt the feelings of others.
“I was really quite touched at that because I was getting quite sick of the communal politics and words of hatred that have been going around whenever the political parties bicker,” said Mrs Maniam of Jalan Tualang.
“At my age, I want to see the elected representatives think of the community over politics. If they can’t work towards that, then the Parliament will be like a battleground and nothing can be achieved to improve the country’s economic situation,” this retired teacher added.
For Benedict Lim, who runs a food an beverage business in the vicinity, he does not care who wins, but he hopes that whichever party that is running the government to have clever people to take care of the economy. For two years his business was so badly affected.
“But I saw the political parties were just fighting with each other. And the only person I could see that was making a lot of noise to ask the government to take care of the people who were suffering was former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“And now he’s in jail – for 1MDB lah, corruption lah – I don’t know what else, but if he was so corrupted and a thief as what they said, how come the country was doing better then?
“Aiyah, sometimes we all must learn to separate politics from the real issues affecting us. I hope this BN person if he wins will be like Najib Razak and help the people. I don’t know him well, but I attended one of his ceramahs at the flats and he seems like a kind person. So I hope he will be a kind person to the people if he wins.
“Fahmi is okay lah, he is also a nice man, but his party seems to be in a bit of a mess, with Anwar and Rafizi fighting, and then DAP is also part of them but using PH logo, very confusing. I will vote for something I am sure of, not something that is still messy.”
So there you are folks, with barely 30 hours before we go out and decide the country’s future, isn’t it better to vote for something or a party that you can be sure of? Do the right thing and you can never go wrong. Go, Go, Lembah Pantai people. See you on Saturday morning. – 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.