JOHOR BARU: He might have been absent from active politics for 14 years but Datuk Shahrir Samad was certainly not lost and forgotten as far as the people of Johor Baru were concerned.
As if to prove that they still remembered him and his brand of politics, voters in the Johor Baru parliamentary constituency gave their “comeback kid” a resounding win with a stunning majority of 46,792 votes – the highest recorded in the country this time round.
Shahrir, the Barisan Nasional candidate, polled 54,073 votes while his challenger, PAS’ Atan Ahmad, obtained 7,281.
For the Johor Baru Umno pro tem chairman, it was a heart-warming “welcome back sign” after being away from the public eye for so long, but he remains typically self-effacing.
“What can I say? I had 14 years to campaign while the rest of the candidates had only eight days to do so,” he said when asked to comment on the reason behind the large majority.
“The votes are not really for me. It is for Barisan and I am merely the beneficiary.
“I must add that it is also the Pak Lah (Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) factor that has led to such a resounding win for Barisan in Johor Baru,” he added in an interview.
The 55-year-old politician said winning with such big majority would not be a reason for him to be proud. Rather, it would serve as a reminder for him to work even harder for the people.
“It means, in fact, a greater responsibility as the people’s expectations will be higher. They have placed their trust in me as a Barisan candidate with the hope that I will look into their needs and aspirations,” he added.
Shahrir said his first course of action as the new Johor Baru MP would be to ensure that the people were served by efficient local authorities, government departments and civil servants.
He said services in Johor Baru should reflect its city status and the public deserved to enjoy facilities fitting of a major urban centre.
“The people of Johor Baru deserve good facilities and services. To achieve developed nation status by 2020, we must ensure that development takes place right from grassroots level,” he added.
In keeping with his words on serving the people, Shahrir received countless calls about houses and public property affected by a heavy rainstorm late afternoon on Sunday, polling day itself.
He immediately mobilised his election machinery to help cut and remove fallen trees and provided aid to those whose houses were affected – and all this was done even before he was declared an elected representative.