Shah Alam the battleground for urban Malay votes


The next general election is expected to be the closest fight to form the new Malaysian government. And several seats across the nation are likely to be heated battles with the slimmest of majorities. The Malaysian Insider takes a look at some of these hot seats in what will be an intense election for control of Malaysia. 

In Shah Alam, the total registered voters as at last June numbered 96,066 people where Malays made up about 70 per cent and the rest consisting of Chinese, Indians and others.

Amin Iskandar, The Malaysian Insider

The capital city of the country’s richest state, Shah Alam, is peopled by pensioners, civil servants, businessmen, traders, undergraduates and assembly-line workers who are predominantly Malay and Muslim.

The political landscape in this parliamentary seat underwent a sea change in Election 2008 when for the first time a PAS contender, Khalid Abdul Samad, beat the incumbent, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin, from the mammoth Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition by a whopping 9,314-vote margin. 

It seemed like a David-vs-Goliath battle. And since then, Khalid’s popularity appears to be on the upswing.

But the battle is not quite over for BN. 

It may have been stunned by the unexpected blow four years ago but BN has caught a fresh wind and is likely to field a fresh man to go toe-to-toe with Khalid (picture) in the ring — local-born Datuk Ahmad Nawawi Md Zin, who is the the Umno division chief and Shah Alam BN chief.

Ahmad Nawawi may not be as high-profiled as his PAS opponent nationally, but his political pedigree is just as illustrious as Khalid’s, who is the younger brother to long-time Johor Baru MP Tan Sri Shahrir Samad and bats for the Umno team.

Ahmad Nawawi is the son of Datuk Md Zin Sulaiman, a former three-term assemblyman for Batu Tiga — one of two state seats that falls within the Shah Alam parliamentary constituency, the other being Kota Anggerik. 

Md Zin was state lawmaker from 1982 to 1994, and died while an incumbent, just ahead of the 1995 general election.

His son is counting on old-time voters with fond memories of his father’s service in Batu Tiga to contribute to the BN’s bid to reclaim Shah Alam at the next polls due soon.

“Batu Tiga is categorised as a white area, that is one the BN can confidently win while for Kota Anggerik, its status is currently more grey-white where it is possible to win but the ruling federal coalition will have to work much harder,” Ahmad Nawawi told The Malaysian Insider in a recent interview.

Ahmad Nawawi though is no electoral novice. As the former Kota Anggerik assemblyman, he speaks from experience and he is confident BN can wrest control of the Selangor capital.

He said BN has a key performance index (KPI) and a realistic breakdown of the percentage of support that showed one of the main factors that had contributed to its defeat in Election 2008 was due to the coalition fielding non-Shah Alam natives as candidates or, in the local lingo, “parachute candidates”.

Ahmad Nawawi said in 2008 one of the main reasons that led to BN’s crushing defeat was that the locals no longer accepted Aziz Shamsuddin.

Ahmad Nawawi is confident of winning back Shah Alam.

“We have our KPI to win in Shah Alam, we are not looking for 80 per cent of the Malay votes here, of the 70 per cent Malay voters here, we only need 65 per cent to support us, can get 55 to 60 per cent Indian voters and 25 to 30 per cent Chinese voters, we will win comfortably by a 5,000-plus majority.

“With the suppport of the Malays who have returned to BN compared to previously, we feel more confident of taking over Shah Alam,” he said.

In Shah Alam, the total registered voters as at last June numbered 96,066 people where Malays made up about 70 per cent and the rest consisting of Chinese, Indians and others.

Ahmad Nawawi, who was also a state executive councillor during the administration of Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, said the Malay support towards BN had slid, similar to during the 1999 general election, but in the 11th general election the coalition was saved by Chinese and Indian support.

“In the present situation, when we look at the positive response from the public, especially the Chinese when we are on the ground, this gives us the confidence that the chances are better.

“The government pensioners’ club is actively helping us, previously where were the retirees who wanted to help us? Now everyone is volunteering themselves because they are worried, including Umno veterans,” he said.