AMID the cool breeze on an afternoon with the familiar limestone hills in the background, the political temperature seems to soar higher over talk of Selangor PKR Political Bureau member Amirudin Shari being fielded for the Gombak parliamentary constituency in the 14th general election.
PKR deputy president and Selangor mentri besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali has been the Gombak MP for two terms but now talk is rife that Azmin may not defend his seat here.
He recently offered the seat to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who declined.
Political observers say Amirudin, 38, holds sway over constituents under 45 years old, and that Selangor Pakatan cannot ignore his leadership qualities and fiery oratory skills.
He contested and won the Batu Caves state seat (now renamed Sungai Tua) in 2008 and again in the last elections.
If he is contesting in the Gombak parliamentary constituency, he will likely be going up against Gombak Umno chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Kamarudin, 63, who has headed the division for 11 years.
Those who know Abdul Rahim say he is down to earth.
Constituent Maimunah Hasan, 60, said residents found him to be a friendly representative who was always willing to help resolve their problems with the local councils and utility companies.
Amirudin, told StarMetro he was “open to the idea of contesting a parliamentary seat but I leave it to the party leadership.”
Gombak parliamentary constituency has three state seats -- Sungai Tua, Gombak Setia and Hulu Kelang.
Sungai Tua is a tourism magnet with the famous Batu Caves Sri Subramaniyar Temple, or more popularly known as Batu Caves temple, along with its towering 42.7m-high golden statue of Lord Murugan, which attracts about 100 million visitors each year during Thaipusam, making it one of the must-see sites in Selangor.
Most of the housing projects here came up in the 1970s, such as Taman Batu Caves, Taman Selayang, Taman Amaniah, Taman Sri Selayang and Taman Medan Batu Caves.
Sungai Tua also has a significant Indian population, although most are in the low-income group. Youths from the community here who failed their secondary education are embroiled in social problems and it is a long-standing issue.
Election Commission’s voter registration for Sungai Tua shows 21,026 Malays, 8,422 Indians, 4,563 Chinese and 243 under “others” category. It makes up a total of 34,254 voters.
Gombak MIC Welfare chief Prof Datuk Dr Jayaraman said the Federal Government must make an effort to equip non-academically inclined youths with vocational skills such as underwater welding, electrical wiring or air-conditioner repairing.
“Such courses must be offered free and job placement must be done for all those trained. There is a need to uplift the young generation. Social engineering is important,” he added.
Selangor MIC secretary N. Rawisandran who is also the Sungai Tua Barisan Nasional constituency coordinator, gave Amirudin a good fight in the 13th general election but ultimately the latter won with a 3,261 majority. The other contender in the three-cornered fight was independent candidate Suman Gopal.
Despite Amirudin winning the seat, Rawisandran soldiered on with his service centre that opened daily from 2.30pm to 11pm, until now. Rawisandran, 54, has served the local residents by being a go-between with the local authorities to resolve their problems and various issues affecting their neighbourhoods.
He got Federal Government funds to help repair 52 houses in the Indian Settlement located beside the Batu Caves temple.
He believes this time around more people in Sungai Tua will give him the mandate, “based on work our service centre team had given to the people in the area.”
Some politicians believe Rawisandran might be challenged by Selayang Municipal councillor A. Rahim Ahmad Kasdi, who is also Gombak PKR vice-chairman.
Father-of-six Rahim Ahmad, 55, is an engineering manufacturing specialist.
In Gombak Setia, PAS incumbent Hasbullah Mohd Ridzwan will defend the state seat.
Gombak Umno division deputy chief Datuk Megat Zulkarnain Tan Sri Omardin is tipped to challenge Hasbullah.
The PKR leadership is also considering Gombak PKR secretary Amir Fazlee, 50, as candidate for the Gombak Setia seat. The property manager has been a Selayang Municipal councillor for two terms.
Gombak Setia is one of the oldest developments in Gombak and a bustling area with many housing estates. It is surrounded by industrial zones with heavy vehicles plying the roads. People in the area want traffic calming measures, sound barriers and trees planted at designated areas to overcome dust pollution.
People feel that Selayang Municipal Council has failed in improving the roads and resolving flash floods.
This state constituency has 43,346 registered Malay voters, 6,291 Chinese, 5,096 Indians and others numbering 794. Gombak Setia has a total 55,527 registered voters.
Hulu Kelang incumbent Saari Sungib is widely expected to defend his state seat, but this time it will be on the Amanah ticket instead of PAS under which banner he contested in the 2013 general election.
It is speculated that Gombak Umno treasurer Ismail Ahmad will be the challenge for this seat.
Hulu Kelang was developed in the 1970s, largely by the Selangor Development Corporation (PKNS).
Bordering the Ampang constituency is Bukit Antarabangsa, with a large number of affluent housing estates such as Taman Melawati, Ukay Perdana and Kemensah Heights.
Majority of the 51,551 registered voters comprising 45,035 Malays, 4,220 Chinese, 1,954 Indians and 342 others.
According to locals, Ismail has been going down to the field to help people.
Two of the three state seats within Gombak’s boundaries were won by PAS in the previous two elections.
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