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In urban Malay township of Bandar Tun Razak, tough fight for wife of PKR boss

Residents appear to show a preference for the incumbent, Kamarudin Jaffar, who won the seat on a PKR ticket in 2018.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
Poster featuring Pakatan Harapan's Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Perikatan Nasional's Kamarudin Jaffar hang along a walkway near the Sri Kota flats in Bandar Tun Razak.
Poster featuring Pakatan Harapan's Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Perikatan Nasional's Kamarudin Jaffar hang along a walkway near the Sri Kota flats in Bandar Tun Razak.

For over a week, the Bandar Tun Razak seat in Kuala Lumpur has witnessed a three-way fight for support among candidates from the country's biggest political coalitions.

Now, with just days to go before polling on Nov 19, the race appears to have boiled down to Pakatan Harapan's (PH) candidate, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and the incumbent, Kamarudin Jaffar of Perikatan Nasional (PN) who won the seat on a PKR ticket in 2018. 

Conversations with voters however indicated that Wan Azizah, the deputy prime minister in PH's 22-month government, may find it difficult to wrest the seat from her one-time party colleague. 

Jamaliah Jali, who has lived at the Sri Kota flats for decades, said many voters in the area rejected Barisan Nasional's candidate, MCA man Chew Yee Kin, due to issues of race. 

"The contest is between Wan Azizah and Kamarudin," she said. 

"Wan Azizah came to campaign the other day and met me at my shop. But it wasn't very exciting," she added. 

About 10,000 residents live at the low-cost flats – a valuable vote bank for anyone looking to win the election race. 

Jamaliah said although Wan Azizah had been the deputy prime minister from 2018 to 2020, this did not count for much when compared to the track record of Kamarudin as the incumbent.

"The makciks really like him because he always comes around to meet with the residents association," she said. 

"We got a lot of aid during the Covid-19 pandemic." 

Kamarudin won the Bandar Tun Razak seat in 2018 with a majority of nearly 20,000. The question ahead of the upcoming election is whether he will be able to maintain such a lead after switching camps to join Bersatu.

MalaysiaNow previously reported that PKR chief Anwar Ibrahim himself had been eyeing the seat, although he eventually chose to contest in Tambun, Perak. 

While many petty traders in Bandar Tun Razak are inclined towards BN as a coalition due to the factor of stability, those living in low-cost housing areas appear to prefer Kamarudin due to his track record of service as their MP. 

Wan Azizah, meanwhile, may be struggling with legacy issues from PH's time in government. 

In the town of Sungai Besi, Wan Zulkarnain Wan Bantli said he would choose BN, in the interest of stability.

"When I talk to my friends, they say that PH's 22 months in power were detrimental to the Malays," he said. 

The bones of contention during the PH administration include the government's efforts to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination or ICERD, Tabung Haji, and the Rome Statute, all of which were opposed by the Malay political bloc. 

Nordin, who has worked as a chicken trader at the Sungai Besi market for 20 years, said he, too, placed stability as his top priority in choosing a candidate. 

"It will be difficult if it ends up being a coalition government," he said. 

"They will not agree. I have no issues with other races, but let the government be stable." 

While Wan Azizah had hit the ground running, visiting the Bandar Tun Razak area even before nomination day on Nov 5, he said PH did not appear ready to rule the country just yet despite its stint in Putrajaya.