TANJUNG MALIM: Nestled in the Muallim district, Slim River is a small town with a laidback atmosphere. Located about 100km from Ipoh, the town is filled with shops and eateries surrounded by lush greenery.
In the next few weeks, this quiet town will be buzzing with activities for the Slim state seat by-election on Aug 29 following the death of its four-term Barisan Nasional assemblyman Datuk Khusairi Abdul Talib.
The folk in the constituency were, however, lukewarm towards the by-election as many were still saddened by the passing of Khusairi.
Former Kampung Kuala Slim chief Mohd Shuhaimi Md Said, 62, described Khusairi as someone who always cared for the constituents.
“The last time I met him was the day before he passed away at his service centre.
“What I remembered the most about him was how low profile he was. He would not mind sitting with us at mamak restaurants for coffee, ” said Mohd Shuhaimi said.
“When he sat with us, he would always ask what was happening in our villages and whether we needed any help.”
Mohd Shuhaimi said Khusairi had always wanted to bring development.
“He used to say that he wanted to bring in more opportunities for the people here. I also vividly remember it was his dream to have the town expanded with more jobs and homes.
“According to him, instead of locals travelling to the Klang Valley for jobs, it would be better for them to work here instead.
“Therefore, we hope whoever wins will continue with Khusairi’s vision as the people will benefit, ” he said.
Khusairi, who had been the incumbent for Slim since 2004, passed away on July 15 at 59.
In the 14th General Election, he won with a 2,183-majority against PAS’ Zulfadli Zainal and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s Mohd Amran Ibrahim, who contested under the PKR flag.
Some 23,377 voters in the constituency were registered for the 2018 election, with 74.6% of them Malays, 13.2% Indians, 10.4% Chinese, 1.5% Orang Asli and others 0.3%.
Nomination day is on Aug 15, followed by a two-week campaign period. Early voting will be held on Aug 25.
For former Kampung Kurnia chief Shahidon Abdul Samat, 57, he said one of Khusairi’s plans was to set up a village for veteran celebrities.
“He wanted to make sure they had a place to stay.
“To my knowledge, he already chose a location and was preparing the paperwork for the project, ” Shahidon said.
“Khusairi also planned to upgrade the football fields in the constituency as he was a football fan.
“We’ve had the Piala Datuk Khusairi football tournament and it was something that many of us were looking forward to every year, ” he said, adding that it was his hope to see a local stand in the by-election.
“It has been a while since we had anyone from Slim itself to contest in an election. Khusairi himself voted in Behrang instead of Slim.
“Having someone from this town to represent us will be great as this person understands the people better. There are many people in Slim who are perfect candidates and we hope this person will do the best for the constituency, ” he said.
Teacher Khairul Azmi Othman, 34, from Kampung Klan Halt, said he wished for more job opportunities in the constituency.
“I was lucky to get a job after I moved back here from Kuala Lumpur a few years ago.
“What I noticed is that many youths here had to move to Kuala Lumpur to look for jobs despite the higher cost of living, ” said Khairul Azmi, who also wished that police kiosks would be set up in all villages in Slim.
“There have been several cases of theft and drug abuse in the villages.
“Since I have small children, I worry about their safety and I hope that in the future, there will be easier access for locals to seek help from the authorities, ” he said.
A shop owner who wants to be known as Lim, 43, wished for a fair housing allocation for villagers in Slim.
“There are a few governmentfunded housing projects in Slim that are currently resided by people who are not from here.
“Many of us here do not own houses and have to rent instead. When we saw these projects a few years back, we were hoping to buy houses for ourselves.
“Unfortunately, they were taken up by those from other districts like Teluk Intan and Kinta.
“While we do understand that there are certain criteria to secure the houses, we hope that they will be changed in future. Some of my friends from Slim had to buy a house elsewhere despite making their livelihood here, ” he said.
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