THE people of Kuala Kangsar are observing an interesting contest between two professionals, after a female lawyer and a female doctor were named as candidates for the parliamentary by-election here.
Following the announcement of Perak PAS women’s wing chief Dr Najihatussalehah Ahmad’s candidacy on May 27, the deputy prime minister announced the late Kuala Kangsar MP’s wife, Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid, as Barisan Nasional’s candidate the next day.
Those interviewed by MetroPerak said they are more familiar with Mastura as she often mingled with the rakyat with her late husband Datuk Wan Mohammad Khai-ril Anuar Wan Ahmad.
Administrative assistant Siti Aida Mohd Yusof, 55, said she was not familiar with Dr Najihatussalehah and she believed that Mastura would know more about her husband’s work.
Mastura may lack a track record in politics, she added, but she could win sympathy votes because her husband died in the helicopter crash last month.
“I think this is going to be a tough competition between the candidates because both PAS and Umno receive strong support from the people here,” she said.
She added that Mastura would have to observe the mourning period of iddah by limiting her activities.
Siti Aida said she hoped that the winning MP would look into the development of the royal town by improving its public amenities.
“I want to see an improvement in the public transport system, as it is always known to be tardy and unreliable,” she said.
Businessman Wong Seng Chin, 57, said he knows Mastura as a moderate lady who is close to the people.
“Back then, I will always see Mastura accompanying her husband at social activities, even the ones held by the Chinese community here.
“We have chatted before and I can tell that she is very friendly and approachable – two qualities that are important,” he said.
Be it a female lawyer or doctor who wins in the end, Wong stressed that it is important for the people to have an approachable MP who has the best interests of the people at heart.
“The population of the town is decreasing year by year because the youths are leaving for better prospects.
“I believe things would be much better if the authorities could actually tap into the potential of Kuala Kangsar as a popular tourist destination.
“I hope the MP who wins can raise this issue in Parliament so that our infrastructure can be upgraded to accommodate tourists coming in,” he said.
Teacher Jamal Mohamad, 54, said it looked like both parties have equal chances of winning the by-election.
“I’ve read about both candidates in the media and they both seem formidable.
“But Mastura has the advantage as her husband was once the MP here. The people here would know of her,” he said.
Echoing Wong’s sentiments, Jamal said the future elected MP must work on developing and promoting Kuala Kangsar as a tourist attraction.
“This place is a royal town and I don’t think many people are aware of that fact,” he said.
Another teacher, Roslan Hassan, 52, said Mastura’s chances of winning was high.
“She is quite popular among the residents here because she used to follow her husband to many events and programmes.
“She is friendly and humble. She does not care much for status because I have seen her going straight into the kitchen to help the women out whenever she attends a kenduri or function that serves food,” he said.
As for market trader Mohd Saif Abdullah, 50, he said he did not care who wins as long as the winner can do her job well and serve the rakyat.
“There are so many problems in Kuala Kangsar that have been going on for decades.
“So I do not care who is who. I just want to know whether she can deliver on her promises at the end of the day. That person will have my vote,” he said.
Mohd Saif bemoaned that the central market of Kuala Kangsar has been in poor shape for years with leaking roofs and faulty electricity supply but no efforts have been made so far to upgrade the entire market.
“It is old and narrow. And there are no toilets provided at the market at all. It is inconvenient for market-goers and people like us who trade there for hours.
“There was talk of the authorities wanting to build a brand new market at least seven years ago, but until now, nothing has happened,” he said.
Meanwhile, barber A. Nagaraj, 35, said whether it is a doctor or a lawyer who wins, he hopes that the new MP can stay in Kuala Kangsar instead of having a permanent home elsewhere.
“This is so that it is easier for the MP to come and meet with the rakyat and learn about our woes.
“I also hope that the new MP can continue to look after the welfare of the Indian community here, just like Wan Mohammad Khai-ril did,” he said.