It was past midnight and the ceramah had long since ended, but a small crowd lingered at the playground area of Blok 100 of the PPR Sri Pantai people’s housing project, shaking hands and taking photographs with Lembah Pantai incumbent Nurul Izzah Anwar .
Appearing tired, Nurul Izzah nevertheless obliged, chatted with them and handed out her name card. She then made her way to an opposite block to visit one of her constituents, 82-year-old Ahim Mat who is bedridden after having suffered a stroke recently.
Ahim’s wife Rahimah Bakar, 76, had earlier attended the ceramah and had invited Nurul to her home. Despite the late hour, Ahim was delighted to see Nurul Izzah.
Nurul Izzah then made her way to the home of Siti Aminah who suffers from high blood pressure.
“Kak Siti always helps and takes some of the residents who are ill to the hospital,” said Nurul Izzah.
Despite being indisposed, Siti’s face lit up when she saw Nurul Izzah and chatted amiably with her.
At about 12.45am, Nurul Izzah said good night and took her leave.
“I do my best and try to visit. I’m tired of people accusing me of not visiting my constituents,” she said as she made her way out.
She enjoys celebrity-like status in her constituency and before she started her ceramah earlier that night, she went around shaking hands with everyone present and appeared to recognise most of them.
A few minutes later, in her Penang accent, she began her 30-minute speech, touching on cronyism, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, mariyathei (respect in Tamil), the water problem in Selangor and the “flavour of the week”, Shah Alam parliamentary candidate Datuk Zulkifli Noordin, which got the crowd excited.
“He (Zulkifli) insulted people but he is protected. In my view, anyone who disrespects other religions must be brought to court, regardless if he is a civilian or a minister. Justice must be for all,” she said to loud cheers from the crowd.
A resident, who has been living in Sri Pantai for the past 10 years, said she understood Nurul Izzah’s plight.
“Nurul Izzah has done her level best to try to solve our problems,” said the 53-year-old who declined to be named.
Another local, who declined to be named, said he attended the ceramah because he wanted to get the “feel” of the environment. Working in the oil-and-gas industry, the 44-year-old moved out two years ago having earlier resided in Lembah Pantai for 12 years.
“My voting constituency is still here. I feel since she came, there is a lot of political awareness among the locals but she has an uphill battle. “Still, I believe the locals are wise enough to judge,” he said.
In 2008, Nurul Izzah had wrested the Lembah Pantai seat by a margin of 2,895 votes (7%).
The Lembah Pantai electorate has apparently increased to around 71,000 voters, compared to 56,650 in 2008. Indicating a 25% increase in registered voters in the four years since 2008, sharply contrasting the 9% growth of the electorate across the previous 13 years between 1995 to 2008.
Nurul Izzah considers the Lembah Pantai constituency as a “microcosm of Malaysia”. She has “a trusted core team” of 50 people plus a wider base of division heads and volunteers.
Besides groundwork, the team is also meticulously analysing the historical voter-turnout trends by wards/sectors within the constituency to address the new challenge.