KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 — PKR’s Nurul Izzah Anwar will be resuming her underdog role for Election 2013 as she is likely to face federal minister Raja Datuk Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin — with the resources of the state to back him — in the battle for Lembah Pantai.
The federal territories and urban wellbeing minister has been spotted stepping up his visits to the parliamentary seat lost to the Barisan Nasional (BN) at the polls five years ago when former minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was roundly beaten by then-political greenhorn, Nurul Izzah.
“I work tirelessly. Frankly, I’d say every day, we try our best to not only give the best service and I am ready until the end to fight in Lembah Pantai,” the first-term MP told The Malaysian Insider in a recent exclusive interview to arrest rumours that she was looking to contest elsewhere.
However, she was quick to add that she would follow whatever her party leadership decided.
“We as party members are bound to the party decision,” said the 32-year-old eldest daughter of Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, adding that she would bow in to the party should she be required to contest in a different seat.
Raja Nong Chik’s heavy presence in the highly-diverse constituency that covers both the working-class and the affluent has spawned speculation that the urban seat is no longer a safe bet for the incumbent, giving rise to further rumours that Nurul Izzah may be fielded elsewhere.
The PKR vice-president challenged the rumours, saying they were deliberately sparked by certain people with political interests.
“But to me, this is mere speculation, to me this issue does not arise,” she said, referring to the speculation that she had a shaky hold on Lembah Pantai.
Of bigger and more immediate concern to Nurul Izzah was the voter growth, particularly the spike in postal voters, which she said was the highest among all 11 federal seats in the national capital.
“Because I know in Lembah Pantai, compared to the rest of the seats in Kuala Lumpur, has seen a growth that’s been too sudden, including postal votes.
“The spike from 56,000 now has become 71,000. The majority are not merely new voters, there are voters that have been shifted in,” she said, and called on election observers to step up their work to help her monitor the polls process.
Nurul Izzah had snatched the Lembah Pantai seat by a 2,895-vote majority in Election 2008 from Umno veteran Shahrizat, who had been MP there for 13 long years.
The Wanita Umno chief had scored a resounding 15,288-vote majority before the last elections.
But Shahrizat is likely to be dropped from being nominated as a BN candidate in the looming polls due to her familial links to the cattle-farming scandal which erupted two years ago that had cost her Cabinet post.
Last October, the former senator had openly declared her support for Raja Nong Chik to be fielded as the BN’s candidate for Lembah Pantai in Election 2013.
Raja Nong Chik has also emerged as the front-runner for Lembah Pantai based on the “winnable candidate” criterion espoused by Najib in a bid to wrest the BN’s lost supermajority in Parliament.
The 13-member coalition had lost its two-thirds control in the lawmaking house in 2008, winning only 85 seats in peninsular Malaysia compared to the opposition parties that managed to grab 80 seats.
The BN was saved from ceding Putrajaya only because of its wins in the two Borneo states, Sabah and Sarawak, and the federal territory of Labuan, which cushioned its peninsula defeat with 55 seats. The opposition parties there garnered only two federal seats.
Analysts have said that Election 2013 will be the tightest-contest in Malaysia’s history as the BN will for the first time, face a strong opposition bloc in the battle for the 222 total parliamentary seats and 505 state seats up for grabs.
Elections must be called by April when the BN’s mandate expires.