Saturday, July 2, 2022

No fight from Muda in Syed Saddiq’s Muar

Some voters say they are disappointed in his performance as an MP although they would be willing to give him a second chance.

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For 20 years, Pak Misnan has gone out to sea each day to eke out a living as a fisherman.

A familiar face at the Muar jetty near the town bus station, his daily income varies according to season and catch.

He is one of some 100 fishermen registered in Muar. At the 14th general election in 2018, he and his fellow fishermen placed their trust in a youth who was contesting an election for the first time.

Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman eventually became the Muar MP with a majority of 6,953 votes, defeating Razali Ibrahim of Barisan Nasional (BN) and Abdul Aziz Talib of PAS.

He went on to be appointed as a Cabinet member – the youngest in Malaysian history.

But asked how he felt about Syed Saddiq now, Pak Misnan appeared disappointed.

Misnan (right) sits with a friend at the jetty along Sungai Muar in Johor.

“At the beginning, he was good at talking and good at showing his face,” he said.

“But after that, nothing happened.”

Now, in the run-up to the Johor state election, Pak Misnan said many fishermen are tired of hearing empty promises by politicians.

They are also indifferent to which candidates are being fielded in the seats within the Muar constituency, he said.

According to the 48-year-old, not a single candidate has come to meet them throughout the campaign period so far.

“Take our area, for example – he has paid us no heed,” he said, referring to Syed Saddiq.

“Now, we don’t care anymore who is in the government.”

Syed Saddiq, who contested the 14th general election on a Bersatu ticket, was sacked from the party after the so-called Sheraton Move.

He subsequently formed Muda, a youth-based party which is contesting seven states seats in Johor: Puteri Wangsa, Tenang, Bukit Kepong, Bukit Permai, Parit Raja, Machap and Larkin.

While Muda is clashing with PKR in the seat of Larkin, it is staying out of the two state seats under the Muar constituency – Maharani and Sungai Balang.

Under the agreement inked with Pakatan Harapan (PN), its candidates are being fielded in the seats previously contested by Bersatu.

The Maharani and Sungai Balang state seats were won by PKR and Barisan Nasional (BN).

Muda’s move to stay out of the state seats in Muar has raised questions about the extent to which Syed Saddiq has succeeded in making inroads, nearly a term after becoming the MP there.

Another fisherman, Abd Rahman, said his luck took a turn for the worse after his allowance as a former soldier was cut from RM1,000 to RM750 during the Pakatan Harapan administration.

“The assistance for fishermen was also reduced,” he said. “Thankfully now it’s gone back up.”

Car rental operator Ismail (left) sits at his booth in Muar.

Ismail Shaari, who runs a car rental in Muar, said that the car rental association had supported Syed Saddiq at the 14th general election given the negative sentiments of its drivers towards e-hailing drivers at the time.

However, he said they were left disappointed when the PH government prioritised e-hailing services.

“Syed Saddiq used to come around before GE14,” he said. “We did support him then.

“But after he won, we saw neither hide nor hair of him. If he campaigns now, I would tell him not to bother.”

Like the fishermen, Ismail said none of the candidates for the Johor election had come to see them so far.

But this does not mean that the former youth and sports minister has been completely rejected by voters.

Ismail said if Syed Saddiq were to apologise or admit his shortcomings as an MP, for himself, he would not mind giving him a second chance.

“We don’t care who is in charge, but the government must administer with integrity and tend to the needs of the people,” he said.

“After he won, he disappeared.”

A senior citizen who introduced himself as Mohd Shah said the people’s wishes should be carried out over the long term, adding that Syed Saddiq could shine at this if given a chance.

“He has made mistakes, of course, but so have others,” the 70-year-old said.

“Syed Saddiq is better than Najib or Zahid – they’re embroiled in scandal,” he added, referring to the two Umno leaders who are facing multiple charges in court.

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