Come September 8 this Saturday, the by-election in Selangor is literally a fight of new against old politics - that of a city councillor against a medical doctor.
PKR's Halimey Abu Bakar is a simple man who prefers to be anonymous - sometimes too anonymous that one could almost miss him as he sits in a crowd and lets his party workers take the shine out of him. He does seem to be comfortable being in the shadows.
Yet when he speaks, he is confident and knows the area and his problems - especially as he is a local boy who has seen the changes and knows the place like the back of his hand. Furthermore, he was Petaling Jaya City Councillor (MBPJ) in 2008 and 2016 and was involved in a number of projects upgrading public facilities in the very state constituency he is standing in.
A self-made man, he is rather uncomfortable in front of the cameras.
I grew up as a squatter moved into temporary longhouses before settling into low cost homes. I still remember the time when my father made only RM20 a day operating a pasar malam stall.
"I grew up as a squatter moved into temporary longhouses before settling into low cost homes. I still remember the time when my father made only RM20 a day operating a pasar malam stall. He fought for the issues faced by traders and improves the lives of squatters then.
"I cannot forget the constant floods and dirty surroundings that we had to live in for years in Kampung Lindungan before the flats came up. Now, we still live in squalor and many are living the life I lived as a child and as a teen," recalls Halimey.
A man who was part of the reformasi movement when former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked in 1998, he says that he entered politics to reform, not for personal gain.
He paints the picture of the man who wants to ensure his children fare better than him in education and keeps recalling how hard his parents worked to raise him.
He is very proud of the community library, which he had set up as the councillor in Kampung Lindungan, which he intends to replicate more in low-income areas of Seri Setia should he win.
As for the more well-to-do constituents in Seri Setia, he says that he is well aware of the traffic and land issues as well as encroaching development. He simply says that he will speak for all - the rich and the poor, but for the latter, his voice will be louder.
"I, for one am not corrupt and if you are not convinced, check at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission if there are any cases against me," says Halimey.
He is confident of winning but he says Pakatan Harapan, despite being the government of the day, has to work harder to win the seat.
On the other hand, PAS' Dr Halimah Ali is poised and leads her pack. An entourage with security is constantly behind her and they are on edge when any stranger approaches her.
She seems to be easy going but having been a seasoned state assemblywoman, she carries the air of one who is already elected. She was the Selat Kelang state assemblywoman in 2008 but lost in the following general elections.
In her hand throughout the campaign is the PAS constitution and the party manifesto, in Chinese and English. Her accomplishment list is so long that she herself seems to forget and she has to refer to the leaflets she carries to read them out.
Halimah is a Sarawakian with an Australian medical degree who moved to the Peninsula to follow her husband and stayed on.
"I even stayed in Seri Setia at one point of time," said Halimah, for which she says gives her intimate insights into the constituency. She also plays up her vast experience as a medical doctor, having been with the government for decades.
She carries herself charmingly and is careful with her choice of words. Her answers are more in questions: "If I am not good enough, why did PAS choose me?"
If I am not good enough, why did PAS choose me?
Halimah boasts she is close to the Chinese community; citing how her former constituents in Selat Kelang called her Ha Li Mah.
She stresses that although PAS is now in the opposition, she still has friends in the Selangor Pakatan Harapan state government now. She even sports the black name tag the state civil servants wear.
She insists that she will not play the role of a passive by-stander but one that will push the state government to perform.
"I was once in the exco - that means I was in government, the Selangor government. So, I have experience there for six years plus. I have experience, so I know what the government is like and what is bureaucracy and what are the do's and don'ts - what it is they can’t do. If you are an Adun of the governing party, there are things that you can bring up but not everything.
"Some are sensitive and some can cause chaos and some can create lots of things that the government has got to answer. But now, if I’m an opposition, I'm not bound by that gag from the government. So, I'm quite free," says Halimah.
She also says that she will bring up issues and because she knows how the government works, it would be easier for her to press the right buttons.
"Whatever the rakyat is asking me to bring up including those from the governing parties who can’t bring themselves. Well, when you said about noise making and all that, I'm the kind of person who does not talk much but one who acts. I am results-oriented," says Halimah.
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