A duel between two local personalities

NIBONG TEBAL: The Sungai Bakap state by-election is not just a fight between Pakatan Harapan and Perikatan Nasional, but a duel between two local personalities who have pledged the same thing: to solve the constituency’s perennial water troubles.

Defending the seat for Perikatan is PAS’ Abidin Ismail, 56, who is going head-to-head with Pakatan’s Dr Joohari Ariffin, 60, of PKR.

Their names were announced by returning officer Khairulnizam Hashim at the Jawi Multipurpose Hall yesterday.

Abidin said he is no stranger to the seat, having served as special officer to the late Sungai Bakap assemblyman Nor Zamri Latiff before the latter’s passing last month.

“I have been with the locals and I can feel they are keen to have me serve as their elected representative.

“I’ll hit the ground running and will meet as many people as I can during the campaign,” said the PAS Nibong Tebal division vice-chairman, who was a logistics executive for 30 years prior to serving as Nor Zamri’s special officer beginning in 2023.

Abidin’s political career kicked off when he became secretary of the Sungai Duri PAS branch in 2005, a post he held until 2015.

He has been deeply engaged in social activism in Sungai Bakap since 2012, serving in various positions in the area’s community and mosque organisations.

Meanwhile, Joohari said he is eager to serve the people of Sungai Bakap and help the place grow further.

“I want to look into infrastructure and handle the water and flooding issues.

“People of different backgrounds, races and ideologies will cast their votes. No matter what their preferences or who they vote for, everyone will be treated fairly once the by-election is over,” said Joohari, who is from Sungai Bakap.

The former teacher is a certified trainer and coach, and holds a PhD from Universiti Sains Malaysia.

He is the former director of the Aminuddin Baki Institute (Northern Branch), having worked closely with Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek, who is Nibong Tebal MP, in handling parliamentary and party matters.Both candidates were accompanied by their party bigwigs at the nomination centre yesterday.

Among those present were unity government leaders such as Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, Amanah president Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu, Barisan Nasional secretary- general Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir, DAP national chairman Lim Guan Eng, PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, and secretary-general Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, and Penang Pakatan chairman Chow Kon Yeow.

On the Perikatan side were PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang, his deputy Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man, party secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan, Perikatan’s election director Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor, Bersatu vice-president Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin, and Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau.

In the lead-up to nomination day, there was talk that Joohari’s strong academic credentials would give Pakatan an edge in the by-election.

Perikatan’s Muhammad Sanusi, however, played this down, saying that high academic qualifications do not translate to political savviness.

“He can have a Master’s degree or PhD, but if he doesn’t know how to handle things in politics, he will fail,” he said.

Instead, the Kedah Mentri Besar described Abidin as a “smart” candidate who can be the voice of the constituents.

PKR’s Saifuddin Nasution, who is also Home Minister, said winning the state seat would further strengthen the unity government in Penang and the country.“A vote for him is a vote for the unity government,” he said.

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