‘Chief architect’ of Putrajaya stands zero chance of winning seat

Asila Jalil Yasmin Ramlan Nabihah Hamid

Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been named as the Pakatan Harapan prime minister candidate and needs to win a parliamentary seat if he is to be Malaysia’s next leader. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, January 15, 2018.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the opposition’s choice for prime minister, is expected to contest in either Kubang Pasu, Langkawi or Putrajaya. The Malaysian Insight recently went to these areas to gauge the level of support for the former prime minister. In the third and final part of this series, we look at the former prime minister’s chances in Putrajaya.

THERE were only two logical choices when Dr Mahathir Mohamad decided in the late 1980s that Malaysia needed its own administrative capital away from Kuala Lumpur.

He wanted a place where all the ministries could be together as Kuala Lumpur became choked by traffic and congestion. And it had to be somewhere within an hour’s drive from the city centre that was home to businesses and financial institutions.

He also wanted it to be near an international airport so that visiting dignitaries and government officials could move about with minimal fuss.

Between Janda Baik in Pahang and Prang Besar in Selangor, he decided that Selangor would be the better choice.

After several rounds of negotiations with Selangor, which involved a substantial sum of money, a new federal territory was born. 

Prang Besar would be renamed Putrajaya, after Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman.

Prior to the mid-1990s, Prang Besar used to be one of the many areas founded by the British to house rubber and later oil palm estates in Selangor.

Built at an estimated cost of RM24 billion, it housed majestic buildings, such as Perdana Putra, which is the prime minister’s office, Seri Perdana, the official residence of the prime minister, Palace of Justice and Putra Mosque and quarters for government officers and staff.

No winning chance

It’s hard to drive through Putrajaya without thinking about its first architect, Dr Mahathir. But all that will come to nought for Dr Mahathir if he is to contest here.

PAS Putrajaya commissioner Ahmad Roshidi Wahab said Dr Mahathir only has a slim chance of winning the Putrajaya seat.

“If we look at the situation in Putrajaya, most of the residents are government servants. Therefore, the chances of Dr Mahathir (to win), are not good,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

Built at an estimated cost of RM24 billion, Putrajaya houses the prime minister’s office and is home to thousands of civil servants. – EPA pic, January 15, 2018.

Ahmad Roshidi said the Islamist party does not have any issue if the Bersatu and Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman were to contest in Putrajaya as it would not impact on PAS.

“I don’t want to say he does not have any chance, but if we look at the civil servants, they still find it hard to vote for the opposition. Especially one that is always criticising the government.

“Therefore, we still believe that PAS voters are still with us, except for the small percentage who have moved to Amanah,” he said, adding that civil servants traditionally voted for Barisan Nasional as they feared repercussions.

However, Ahmad Roshidi said no “punishments” were ever recorded. 

In the 13th general election in 2013, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor won by 9,943 votes, defeating PAS candidate Husam Musa who gained 4,402 votes.

A total of 15,791 voters turned up with 94% Malay voters, Indian (3%) and others 2(%).

Ku Nan hot favourite

Putrajaya Umno Youth chief Ahmad Faisal said BN is prepared for Dr Mahathir if he chooses to stand in Putrajaya.

“We are prepared to contest against anyone. In 2013, we faced Husam, so if Dr Mahathir contests here (in Putrajaya), we will accept the challenge.

“In terms of services, I think no one can top what Tengku Adnan has done for the residents here. We can see that the civil servants in Putrajaya are among the lucky ones.”

Faisal said Tengku Adnan is focused on helping those in Putrajaya which could be seen by the RM20 vouchers given to residents to be used at markets every month and also the weekly financial aid given to at least six families, among others.

Faisal did not deny that Dr Mahathir was the man responsible for shaping Putrajaya. However, he said the man who had once led the country for 22 years is only using sentimental value to get support from voters.

“Tun Mahathir is aware that Tengku Adnan had provided so much for the people of Putrajaya. I think he knows but he wants to utilise the sentimental value of his role in creating Putrajaya.

“He is trying to gain votes through that. He was the one whom created Putrajaya, he built Putrajaya but the truth is those who took care of Putrajaya were the MPs since 2000, Tengku Adnan was the one who took care of it.

“The person who cares for the welfare of the people is Tengku Adnan.”

Putrajaya MP Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has done a lot for civil servants in the newest federal territory and looks set to retain the seat at the next elections. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, January 15, 2018.

Tough seat for anyone

Dr Mahathir served Malaysia from 1981 until 2003. He was sworn in as the fourth prime minister on July 16, 1981, at the age of 56.

Academy of Malay Studies Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Putrajaya is the most difficult seat for Dr Mahathir to contest in due to the large number of civil servant votes.

“The civil service vote is normally behind the government of the day and at the moment, there are no signs that it will be any different in GE14.

“This block of voters look likely to remain with BN as it fears what the opposition will bring – especially with threats to cut costs.”

Awang also said the opposition bloc had not shown the people how they would defend the interest of the Malays as well as protecting and improving the civil service.

“Whereas Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa has extended the PPA1M housing to government pensioners’ children.”

Happy with BN

Civil servants in Putrajaya said they were satisfied with what the BN government has done for them over the years.

A civil service employee, Zul, said issues in Putrajaya mainly revolved around cost of living, increase in price of goods and the high prices of properties.

He was coy about how he would vote, dismissing common talk that civil servants would be found out and punished if they supported the opposition.

“Civil servants will not have any problem if we don’t vote the government. Previously, many people were afraid to vote (for the opposition) but we saw Husam garnered 4,000 votes (in 2013).

“Those who said civil servants will be transferred if they voted for the opposition, they’re just rumours,” said the 36-year-old.

Who he votes for will depend on the candidates, he said, but he was also full of praise for the current MP.

“Ku Nan is very good and he is very concerned about voters. His service as the MP is great.

“I mix around with the people here and I can only see PAS and Umno (supporters). Dr Mahathir will lose.”

Another civil servant who wanted to be known as Sukri, 57, said there was a chance Dr Mahathir could get votes from veteran supporters or retirees.

“In Putrajaya, everything is BN. PAS is also inclined towards BN. (We have) everything here, so there’s no issue.

“For me, Putrajaya is a safe seat for BN. Everything is provided. It would be hard for Dr Mahathir to win if he were to contest here,’ he said, adding that PAS no longer criticised the ruling coalition.

“The only ones here who criticise (the government) is Amanah but they have no support in Putrajaya,” he added.

Malissa, 32, also showed strong support for the BN government and said as a civil servant, she took her oath to stay loyal to the government seriously.

“Moreover in Putrajaya, everything is perfect. Civil servants are comfortable and are often provided with a lot of help.” – January 15, 2018.

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  • The civil servants there are confused with loyalty to the government and the loyalty to a party. Being loyal to a government is being loyal to the government is being responsible to the rakyat quest for a good government. Being loyal to a party is only being loyal to a minor portion of the Rakyat. The civil servants must look at a bigger picture for the good of the nation. Every 5 years, there comes the chance to move forward to better days ahead.

    Posted 6 years ago by Tanahair Ku · Reply

  • After reading the article i came to a conclusion that the govt employee are so stupid that they failed to understand what a govt is and what a political party is? WHERE TO ACHIEVE DEVELOPED STATUS ....CAN ACHIEVE SELFISH STATUS .

    Posted 6 years ago by Mohanarajan murugeson · Reply

  • WITH FELDA on going songlap policy TDM will even contest Pekan........& win with majority

    Posted 6 years ago by Mohanarajan murugeson · Reply

  • Tun should contest in either kepong, george town or bukit bintang...he has the best chance there with the support of the dap

    Posted 6 years ago by Bill Zone · Reply

  • Sad to read what has happened to the intellect of the people of Malaysia typically PJaya. It seems it doesn't matter if umno is rotten to the core and the country is becoming like Zimbabwe, as long as they have what they want, they will still vote for the rotten which is actually against their religion. The retarded mentality of not being able to see the good for the entire country or the benefit of good governance.

    Posted 6 years ago by Alphonz Jayaraman · Reply

    • Totally agree with u.Being govt servant myself,im very sad to know that how cheap the mentality of sonev of putrajaya voters.so selfish..i sufreat move out from putrajaya

      Posted 6 years ago by Laila Bahari · Reply

  • Cait eait for mahatir taking back his throne. Hopegully he will revert back salary increment fron couple of hundreds to mere 90.00 during his time.

    Posted 6 years ago by Mangkuk Hayun · Reply