Community leaders: Voters happy with their MPs, don’t need Independents

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Voters in constituencies eyed by the Gerak Independent movement say they are satisfied with the services rendered by their current lawmakers and are not seeking change, according to community leaders.

They told The Malaysian Insight that they do not need a new representative in their constituency. All they want is for their current MPs to carry on with what they are doing.

Last week, Gerak, a joint initiative promoting independent candidates for the next general election, announced that it will be contesting six parliamentary seats currently held by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in GE15.

The seats are Batu, Subang, Petaling Jaya, Wangsa Maju and Kota Kinabalu.

The Malaysian Insight spoke to some voters in these constituencies to find out if they would consider voting for the independents.

Community leader Azizi Abdul Hamid, 36, said anyone can stand in the election but they must have a track record.

“We hope those who are contesting will walk the talk and not just promise, to try and win the hearts of the people,” said Azizi, who is from Batu.

He, however, said their MP, P Prabakaran, of PKR, is doing an excellent job.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

“He is active and always goes to the ground to meet the people,” he said, adding that during the lockdowns last year, Prabakaran made sure the people in the area had enough food supplies.

Azizi said he feels more comfortable voting for someone who is from a political party as the candidate would have proper support.

“Chances of an independent candidate winning here are very slim. For me, an independent candidate should do the groundwork first before considering contesting,” he said.

Prominent lawyer-activist Siti Kasim will be contesting in Batu on the Gerak ticket in GE15.

A Sentul community leader who wants to be known as Joe said there is no need for such an intervention in Batu.

“We already have an MP. So let him carry on with what he is doing.

“We respect her (Siti) as a lawyer and she should keep up that good work,” he said.

In GE14, Prabakaran won the Batu seat as a PH-backed independent candidate after PKR’s incumbent MP Tian Chua was disqualified from contesting. He eventually joined PKR after the polls.

Meanwhile, community  said voters in the constituency are happy with Maria Chin Abdullah as their MP.

He pointed out that he had not seen any groundwork done by the proposed Gerak candidate for the constituency.

“We don’t know if there are people who are frustrated with the present MP or her party,” he said.

“There is always good engagement with Maria. I will bank on her. She is honest, humble and straightforward, unlike many that we know of.

“But it is always up to the voters and their preferences.”

Another community leader who wants to be known as Roy said Maria is a performing lawmaker.

“I am never against anyone who is willing to contest in the general election, but it would be better if these independent candidates contest seats that are ‘not stable’,” he said.

“They should find out the seats where the voters are unhappy with their lawmakers and contest there.

“In my opinion, members of my community are happy with Maria’s work, especially during the Covid-19 epidemic.”

In GE14, Maria won the Petaling Jaya seat with 78,984 votes against Barisan Nasional’s Chew Hian Tat (21,847) and Gagasan Sejahtera’s Noraini Hussin (14,448).

Tan Lai Kee, who is the deputy chairman of Kampung Lee Kong Chian Residents’ Association in Batu, said he found independent candidates to be lacking in action.

This is because they have no political party support, he said.

“History shows itself. Over the years, probably fewer than 10 independents have won,” he said.

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

“Voters usually prefer someone representing a party to an independent.”

Avatar Singh, a 50-year-old voter in the Wangsa Maju constituency, said he found no reason to support an independent candidate.

“Our current MP, Tan Yee Kew, is very easy to communicate with, and when we have problems, she will react promptly,” said Avatar who is the president of PV16 Lake Condominium Residents’ Association.

In GE14, Tan moved from Klang to Wangsa Maju, and defeated MCA candidate Yew Teong Look with a 24,238-vote majority.

Tan joined PKR from MCA in 2008. She had previously served as Klang MP for three terms from 1995 and was appointed international trade and industry ministry parliamentary secretary after the 2004 general election.

Avatar also said the independent candidates are jumping on the election bandwagon “for their own benefit, not for the people”.

Gerak’s five commitments

Gerak has touted itself as a third force, saying that it is open to forming strategic alliances with other parties or individuals to further its cause – making the country fairer to all.

Its candidates will be tied to five commitments – the Malaysia Agreement 1963; ending divisive politics; restoring guaranteed freedom to the people; restoring institutional power back to the people; and establishing a needs-based affirmative policy or poverty-eradication programme.

The movement was launched last August and is headed by the Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity Foundation (Maju) and other civil society groups.

Maju founder Siti Kasim said Gerak aims to change Malaysia via the only viable solution – Parliament.

Apart from Siti, the other candidates are former journalist Charles CJ Chow (Subang), activist KJ John (Petaling Jaya), Wangsa Maju resident Raveentheran Suntheralingam (Wangsa Maju) and Sabah-based lawyer Roland Cheng (Kota Kinabalu). – TMI