SOUNDINGS FROM SEMENYIH | The saying that 'All politics is local' is showing signs of being relevant in the upcoming by-election for Semenyih.
How the 54,000-strong electorate votes on March 2 may very well be different from how they did nine months ago on May 9, 2018.
At the earlier polls, voters looked at the national picture and favoured Pakatan Harapan to do something for the nation, which was said to be in dire need of change.
But three-quarters of a year on, voters' priorities have switched from a national focus to local concerns, giving resonance to the saying above.
Their concerns have to do with unreduced tolls, higher costs of living, poorer quality of municipal services, traffic congestion and inadequate low-cost housing.
PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli's name crops up frequently in connection with what he said about tolls being reduced – if not abolished – under a Harapan administration, and higher education loans repayable only when graduates get jobs paying over RM4,000 a month.
These unfulfilled promises grate on voters living in the many residential hubs that have sprouted in Selangor's southern corridor, which are girdled by toll-charging highways that have come up in recent years.
If this Selangor constituency votes differently in the March 2 polls, it will be because Harapan had, pre-GE14, stoked the expectations of the people that the cost of living would go down once the coalition takes power at the federal level.
This has not happened.
The people are disappointed that Harapan's pre-election promises of reduced prices and tolls are unkept, perhaps even unkeepable. The latter reality has cast a cynical pall on people's perception of politics and its operatives.
Reacting to the government announcement of an RM100 handout to single young adults, one voter scoffed, “Tak cukup untuk beli Maggi setahun (Not enough for a year's supply of instant noodles).”
A vegetable seller who runs a stall in a Kajang market, but lives and votes in Taman Tasik in Semenyih, observed: “The authorities seem distant and unconcerned with our problems. The newly elected politicians and appointed municipal councillors are not hands-on.”
The vendor was not going to reveal his identity, but said he could see changes made to the way authorities run matters under the purview of the municipality.
“But there is more bureaucracy, more paperwork to be done by applicants.
"So people feel their lives are more burdened rather than eased after Harapan's victory in the general election,” he noted ruefully.
TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for more than four decades. A sobering discovery has been that those who protest the loudest tend to replicate the faults they revile in others.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.