JOHOR BARU: A family that was supposed to be attending a wedding in Kluang over several days decided to take time off to come back to the city to cast their votes in the Pulai parliamentary by-election.
Lawyer Balbeer Singh Jessy, 63, his wife Usha Devi Tara Singh, 57, and their daughter Praveen Kaur Jessy, 25, all donned their traditional Punjabi attire before heading to the voting centre in SK Nong Chik at 8am.
Their youngest daughter Priety Kaur Jessy, 17, similar dressed, accompanied the family to the centre and waited outside.
“We had to quickly vote and rush off to the wedding ceremony in Kluang,” said Balbeer, adding that he wanted to ensure his family came back to cast their ballots.
“I am hoping that more people have returned to vote in these two important by-elections,” he said, referring also to the by-election for the Simpang Jeram state seat.
Asked if there was anything different about this polls, he said that he noticed a dearth of young voters when he went to the school in the morning.
The father of four girls said he hoped the new MP would continue to engage with residents just as the late Datuk Seri Salehuddin Ayub used to do.
Balbeer, who is also the Taman Kolam Air residents’ committee chairman, said their biggest issue was cars parking along the main road, which causes traffic congestion and made it difficult for residents.
“The former MP was proactive and had visited our housing area and even had a dialogue with residents last year,” he said.
Balbeer added that he hoped the Johor Baru City Council would continue to address the parking issue in the area.
First-time voter Veronica Anthony, 25, from Sibu, Sarawak, said she had recently changed her address to Taman Dahlia, Pulai, and did not expect to be able to cast her vote immediately.
“I came to Johor Baru a few months ago with my sister for the better job opportunities here,” she said, adding she found a job with a private firm in the city.
Veronica said she wanted the new Pulai MP to be able to address the high cost of living.
“If the people living in urban areas are finding it difficult, it is even more difficult in the rural areas – most likely, you’ll end up travelling far just to fend for your family,” she said.
R. Yuwethaa, 21, said Pulai needed better public amenities.
“Since Pulai is the city centre of Johor Baru, the main concern for people is the traffic – it affects our daily lives, from the time we spend with our families to our work and personal health.
“So, I hope that whoever is elected MP will be able to look into these issues and provide solutions,” she said after casting her vote at SK Seri Melati.
The student added that she also hoped the new Pulai MP would be open to criticism, especially from youth, and could make improvements when needed.
Car saleswoman Siti Nurhezzaty Mohamad Hamdan, 25, said the MP should be able to help youth in Pulai, and the country in general, get a better work-life balance.
“I think what we youth need is a leader who can come up with ideas on how to improve the general well-being of people, not only in Pulai.
“For example, I’m currently taking care of my elderly parents, and at the same time, I’m also needed to perform well at work, so my day is already busy.
“There was an idea before on introducing shorter working days or hours for Malaysians – I think this would be a great idea for the MP to bring,” she said, adding that this was her second time voting, the first being the Johor state elections last year.