KUALA Selangor’s new Member of Parliament Datuk Irmohizam Ibrahim doesn’t like going around making promises.
During the election campaign, voters would approach the Barisan Nasional candidate to ask for all kinds of things.
“I told them straightaway that I don’t like making promises but if there is an opportunity, I will try to help. They were shocked and said that previously candidates would just say ‘yes’ to everything.
“I just told them that’s not my style. If I can do it, I will,” says the 36-year-old father of two. Like him, his children, two-year-old Irisya Sofea and five-month-old Inarah Syazara, have unusual names.
“I like something different because people find it easy to remember unusual names. And it’s also cool,” says the Kuala Selangor boy, who has his mother to thank for his name.
‘Irmo’, he says, is a library in Greece while ‘Hizam’ means sharp in Arabic. His mother put the two words together and came up with his name which means “sharp in knowledge.”
“I think I am the only one in the world with that name,” he says.
The special officer to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is a first timer in the recent general election where he narrowly beat the incumbent and PAS strategic director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad by 460 votes to become the new Kuala Selangor MP.
There were 934 spoilt votes – more than double his majority. Irmohizam says counting agents told him voters in his area who were not familiar with the indelible ink had used their ink-stained finger instead of a pen to mark the ballot papers, thereby smearing ink all over.
“I think in future, the Election Commission (SPR) must give more briefings to voters about the ink and why it is used,” he says.
Irmohizam prefers a non-attacking approach in politics – perhaps it is because he is young and new in politics or it is just his personality. As a student leader during his university days, he has come into contact with politicians from all sides and his friends from university have gone on to join both sides of the political divide.
“During my campaign, I never attacked anyone. I just told voters to give me a chance to contribute and that if they are not satisfied with me in the next five years, they can punish me in the next election,” says the former law lecturer.
In university, he contested against the children of some PAS leaders, including the party president, for posts in the student union body.
“Even back then, I’d never attack the opposing side. I’d show what I have and my ideas, and they’d show what they have and their ideas, and we’d leave it to the people to choose. That’s what a democratic system is all about,” he says.
He was the UIA student union secretary-general in 1996 when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was deputy Prime Minister and deputy Umno president.
He remembers how Anwar, then UIA president, gave him and other student leaders tips on how to dress appropriately and carry themselves to suit the occasion.
He polished up his public speaking skills, thanks to former Umno Youth exco member (Datuk) Saifuddin Nasution (now PKR secretary-general) who coached him on how long to speak, how to stand and the right gestures while speaking.
Irmohizam is also very fond of Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz who taught him how important it is to engage people.
After Anwar was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister and from Umno in 1998, the students were split in their support.
A year after Irmohizam graduated and was practising law in 2001, he was “recruited” as a special officer to then Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamed and given the task to “bring the student leaders back to the government”.
“Some followed me while some others are now leaders in the Opposition,” he adds.
Irmohizam thinks that his non-attacking style actually worked in his favour in Kuala Selangor.
“I could see people were fed up with too much politics. The fence-
sitters – young professionals and teachers whom I do not know – came up and told me that they were voting for me because I did not ‘hard-sell’ them politics and did not indulge in politik melampau.
“I think we have to change the style of politics and not attack each other too much,” he says.
In Kuala Selangor, Irmohizam is willing to work with Pakatan Rakyat in the interest of the people.
“The Barisan guys might question why I’m asking the Opposition to join us and work together in Kuala Selangor – because otherwise, everyone will be fighting and fighting and there will be no end to it.”
One issue that worries Irmohizam is the water shortage problem in Selangor.