Azmin wants to prove his relevance in Gombak

Mohd Farhan Darwis Nabihah Hamid

Former minister Mohamed Azmin Ali (third from left) insists he never abandoned Gombak when he made the switch to Bukit Antarabangsa. He returns to contest the Hulu Kelang seat, which is part of the Gombak parliamentary constituency. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, August 2, 2023.

ALL eyes are on the Selangor Hulu Kelang seat, where Mohamed Azmin Ali is making his stand in the coming state polls, to show he still has the support of the people even though he no longer is in PKR.

Hulu Kelang is one of the three state seats that make up the Gombak parliamentary constituency that Azmin lost in the recent general election, which he tried to defend on a Perikatan Nasional (PN) ticket.

It was Azmin’s first time contesting a seat under the colours of another party.

The other two seats are Sungai Tua and Gombak Setia.

Azmin, a former senior minister in the ousted PN government, failed to retain the Gombak seat he held for three terms.

The former Pakatan Harapan (PH) Selangor menteri besar dumped PKR for Bersatu not long after the 2018 general election – a move that triggered a mass defection that led to the collapse of the PH government in 2020.

In the general election, Azmin garnered 59,500 votes – not enough to see off the challenge of his protege, the current caretaker Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari, who polled 72,200 votes.

In the coming state elections, Azmin will again face another former mentee, Wanita PKR deputy chairman Juwairiya Zulkifli – in the fight for the Hulu Kelang seat.

Hulu Kelang is a Malay-majority seat. Out of all the 56 state seats in Selangor, it has the most number of Malay voters – nearly 87% of the electorate.

For Azmin, going back to Hulu Kelang will see him go full circle in his political career. This is where he started his political career when he stood in the general election in 1999.

He then switched to Bukit Antarabangsa in the next election, and retained the seat for three terms – all on a PKR ticket.

His replacement in Bukit Antarabangsa is lawyer Shasha Lyna Abdul Latiff.

Shasha ran an unsuccessful campaign in Ampang in the last general election.

Azmin said he’s returning to Hulu Kelang as he considers the area as his “family’s backyard” and he claims to be a native of Kampung Klang Gate.

After his nomination last Saturday, Azmin told supporters he will try to improve on his weaknesses.

He also insisted he had never abandoned Gombak when he made the switch to Bukit Antarabangsa.

“It is here in Hulu Kelang that I was given my first mandate in 1999 when I was elected as its assemblyman.

“There is no question of me running away as alleged by my political enemies,” said Azmin.

His opponent, Juawairiyah, had also shifted from Bukit Melawati, resulting in the showdown.

Bukit Melawati is a seat in the Kuala Selangor parliamentary constituency.

Hulu Kelang was an Amanah seat and had been in the hands of its Selangor deputy chairman Saari Sungib since 2008.

In this election, Amanah, a component party of the PH coalition, gave the seat to PKR to contest.

Saari, who is not defending his seat due to poor health, won it with a majority of more than 15,300 votes in a three-cornered fight in the 2018 general election.

Hisommudin Bakar, a political analyst at the Ilham Center, said he believes Azmin chose to contest in Hulu Kelang due to the number of Malay voters there.

That number is giving him confidence, he said.

Hisommudin said in the general election, statistical analysis showed Azmin had the highest number of support in the Hulu Kelang seat, unlike the other two seats.

He said Azmin’s confidence also stems from the voting pattern with the majority malays that are happy to go out and vote while the minority non-Malay voters are simply not interested to do so.

“He sees a seat he thinks he can win easily.”

Hisommudin said Azmin could count on the support of PAS. “They have a good relationship with Azmin and it won’t be a problem for them to support him,” he added.

“Going by the trend and developments in Hulu Kelang, I would say PN, and Azmin, with the solid support of PAS, has an advantage there.

“One that could carry him across the line.

“The contest will also test the extent of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) support for Juwairiyah.

“A low turnout of BN supporters or a no show will see Azmin back to where he started 24 years ago,” said Hisommudin.

He said Malay voters could cast their vote for Azmin to show their rejection of Umno’s cooperation with DAP in the unity government.

A self-confessed BN supporter, Habsah Ahmad, said she will vote for Azmin because of DAP.

“I will vote for Azmin. I feel Umno has deviated from its core values when it decided to go with DAP when it should be prioritising the struggle of the Malays.

“I am going to vote for Azmin because I don’t want to support PH. I see PN as the coalition that is fighting to protect the rights of the Malays,” Habsah, who claimed she voted for BN in the last general election, said.

In the November polls, Amirudin garnered 22,900 votes in the Hulu Kelang constituency.

That figure is equivalent to 40.85% of the 56,044 voters who cast their votes, while Azmin got 20,844 votes or 37.19%.

Hulu Kelang has 71,141 registered voters as per the recent general election. More than 15,000 voters did not turn out to vote. – August 2, 2023.

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