Friday, April 26, 2013

Radio Australia: Nurul Izzah Will Be Fighting Against A Formidable Opponent For Her Political Survival

Malaysian rising star fights for political survival

Updated 26 April 2013, 17:48 AEST

Nurul Izzah Anwar, the daughter of Malaysia's opposition leader, faces possible defeat in her own electorate.

Five years after Nurul Izzah Anwar won a seat in Malaysia's parliament, the daughter of Malaysia's Opposition leader is fighting for political survival.

The 32-year-old has been touted by some as a future prime minister, but after just one term in parliament, she's facing an uphill battle to retain the seat of Lembah Pantai, in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

"You know, I'm optimistic," she said.

"But we have to be very cautious because we are entering one of the dirtiest elections in history."

Her husband, Raja Ahmad Sharir, thinks she still has a good chance.

"We need to work hard because we cannot take anything for granted," he said.

"She's up against a very formidable opponent."

That opponent is Nong Chik, the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing minister, and a member of UMNO - the same party as the Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

The 60-year-old did not stand for election in 2008, but was appointed a senator by Mr Najib soon after, as part of the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition.

"I grew up in Lembah Pantai, I married in Lembah Pantai, my children was born in Lembah Pantai, my daughter was married here last year in Lembah Pantai," he said.

"My politics also leads to Lembah Pantai - so do or die - it's Lembah Pantai."

The seat of Lembah Pantai is an urban electorate of sharp contrasts.

It takes in wealthy areas, upper middle-class suburbs, as well as a predominately working class Malay area, where low-cost housing is everywhere.

Of the 72,500 voters in the electorate, Malays make up 55 per cent, Chinese 23 per cent and Indians 20 per cent.

Lembah Pantai



Professor James Chin from Monash University's Malaysia campus says while Ms Anwar may be the incumbent, her opponent is the one with the advantage.

"He is currently minister in charge of the area - in other words - he has a lot of government resources a lot of government projects that he can bring down to the seat," he said.

"In addition, he has huge election machinery, so I think he has the advantage."

Since he was appointed minister in 2009, Nong Chik has worked on improving various housing projects in the seat.

He's also provided assistance to families who can't afford to pay their rent.
"I focus on things like housing, low income groups, maintenance and infrastructure problems, issues of security," he said.

Nurul Izzah does though appear to have strong support from the middle and upper classes - even among those who didn't support her last time

Professor Chin says she's done a lot of ground work in the district.

"By and large, based on the people I have spoken to in the seat, she is quite popular," he said.
"Especially among the male voters and also the single mothers."

As well as winning over the low income voters, Nurul Izzah also has to contend with an influx of new voters in her seat.

Professor Chin says that includes more than 5,000 voters whose existence cannot be traced.
"Nurul Izzah is very worried about these new voters - she's actually gone to court to try to remove these voters from the electoral role but she's been unsuccessful," he said.
End this political thuggery, end the political violence, end the politics of slander - we must play and fight clean
Nurul Izzah Anwar

"Without a doubt, all of us believe that those new voters who can't be traced - an overwhelming majority will be supporting Barisan National, the ruling coalition."

It's a big problem for Nurul Izzah, considering she only won the 2008 election by 2,895 votes.
"I'm facing almost 5,000 phantom voters," she said.

"And because of that, I say and I appeal to everyone is to ensure everyone comes out to vote - to manage incidents of fraud in these elections, and for all Malaysians to remind one another - let us not be victims of too many politics."

"I am also demanding that all candidates...end this political thuggery, end the political violence, end the politics of slander - we must play and fight clean."

Allegations of voter fraud are widespread in Malaysia, but like the prime minister, Nong Chik is promising this election will be free and fair.

He says the 5,000 people are legitimate voters - squatters who have moved into government housing.
The opposition is trying to get voters attention by making up nonsense because they don't have anything else to say
Nong Chik

"The opposition is trying to get voters attention by making up nonsense," he said.

"They don't have anything else to say...except stories that are not credible and are defamatory against leaders of Barisan Nasional, including me."

Also pursuing a clean fight is the independent candidate running in Lembah Pantai - Rusli Baba.
The former KL football manager and former UMNO member has vowed to expose what he says is a "hidden agenda" for development in the electorate.

Professor Chin says he's not expected to figure into the equation on election day, in just over a week's time.
"I suspect he stood as an independent because he was not very happy that Raja Nong Chik...was elected," he said.

"But that guy doesn't stand a chance at all."
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