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Professionals they may be, but where’s the wow factor?

K KANGSAR POLLS | ANALYSIS No one can deny that all four candidates contesting in the Kuala Kangsar by-election are very much qualified - if their academic backgrounds can be a gauge of their political acumen.

Nevertheless, almost a week into campaigning, the candidates have yet to show how they stand out.

For a lawyer who graduated from the prestigious Lincoln’s Inn in the United Kingdom, it is not surprising for BN’s Mastura Mohd Yazid to be able to speak eloquently.

Fluent in both Malay and English, Mastura embodies the typical upper middle class Malay.

Some of her critics have used this as a point of contention: should the widow of the incumbent Kuala Kangsar lawmaker be an average middle class working woman, she would not have been able to afford staying at home to observe her iddah (mourning period).

Many believe Mastura was fielded as BN’s candidate simply because she is Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad’s widow. Many, too, believe the BN is banking on sympathy votes.

This may or may not be the reason Mastura was chosen, but her current predicament has definitely been a challenge for the 55-year-old.

To date, members of the media have only met her twice, both during press conferences held at her residence.

Calm and collected in her responses to reporters, it remains uncertain if she will conduct herself similarly when facing members of the public.

Luckily for Mastura, her eldest two sons, Wan Emir Astar and Wan Imar Izzat, have the ability to speak well and are able to help her to handle the press.

Sons as campaign proxies

Mastura’s sons have been active on the campaign trail, attending one programme after another in place of their mother. With their matching shirts, complete with their names emblazoned on them and constant smiles, her sons even look the part of young, aspiring politicians.

For Dr Najihatussalehah Ahmad  of PAS, her experience as a doctor certainly is a plus point when it comes to her efforts to meet the people.

Another advantage for the mother of nine is her ability to speak Mandarin. Since non-Muslims are particularly concerned about the implementation of hudud, Najiha herself can explain the matter further to the Chinese-speaking electorate.

However, Malaysiakini has not been able to determine how well she conducts herself with the media.

There has only been one press conference to date and PAS has yet to hold a ceramah.

Najiha’s schedules, released the previous night, have not helped endear her to the media personnel.

The media have been forced to wait for over an hour for her supposed programmes - and only to be told the venue has been changed.

Sometimes, repeated queries on the current venue for her programme or on whether the event was cancelled were not entertained by the people responsible for handling the media on her behalf.

It is also unclear if her absence is a party strategy, as this is only the first week of campaigning.

Amanah plays the local card

Parti Amanah Negara’s (Amanah) Ahmad Termizi Ramli, on the other hand, has a welcoming vibe to him.

Always smiling, Termizi seemed slightly unsure at times how to go about campaigning during his rounds in meeting the voters.

Perhaps it is because Amanah’s ally, DAP, usually does most of the talking in Chinese- majority areas.

Both Amanah and DAP members keep stressing that Termizi is a former professor.

Urging voters to vote for ‘number four’, this is however ironic, since the Chinese consider the number ‘four’ unlucky.

The retired nuclear physicist appears to have no airs about him. Termizi always makes an effort to shake hands with media personnel and the voters he meets.

Unlike Mastura and Najiha, Termizi always stresses he is a Kuala Kangsar native to score points.

Although he is registered as a voter in Shah Alam and therefore would not be voting in this by-election, Termizi argues that a candidate can come from anywhere.

Born in Manong, Kuala Kangsar, Termizi pointed out how he could not continue staying there, as there was no university.

“But my heart is still with Kuala Kangsar, the people here are my cousins,” Termizi said during his first ceramah last Monday night.

“So I ask for help (to win) – if it is not relatives who would help, who else, then, would help?”

Independent invisible after gaffe

As for Independent candidate Izat Bukhary Ismail Bukhary, apart from his foot-in-the-mouth comment made after nominations that “men should lead women because women are weak”, he has yet to attract any other attention.

The former academician has yet to hold programmes and his posters are not seen around the royal town. Voters, then, would be forgiven to forget that he is even contesting.

Meanwhile, candidates from the three respective parties truly seem ordinary at best. They have yet to show the reasons why voters should vote for them.

For the first week of campaigning, they could be given the benefit of the doubt.

But in next week’s final lap, voters should really think long and hard before deciding on who they want to represent them for the seat of Kuala Kangsar.

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