Drama in Shah Alam

HAVING grown up in Shah Alam and stayed there for 33 years, I often joke that as a person from the city that we don't get fooled by politicians.

Why? Because we are well versed and trained to handle roundabouts.

Another joke is that nothing interesting ever happens in Shah Alam. Of course, there was that one time some people marched with a cow head from the mosque. And yet, the general election may change that.

Shah Alam became an opposition seat in 2008, when Khalid Samad ran as a PAS candidate under the Pakatan Rakyat alliance. It was the time when the majority of voters in Selangor decided to change the ruling coalition.

And unlike what happened in Perak, we did not flip flop.

Although, some believe that the "important announcement" at PWTC in September last year of Tan Sri Muhammad Md Taib joining Umno again was rumoured to be a coup in Selangor after certain elected representatives decided to switch sides.

I guess many of us will never know about that one.

Analysing the past results for Shah Alam, Khalid Samad increased his majority from 2008 to 2013, from a majority of 9,314 to 10,939. My view is that it was also because in 2013 BN did not take Shah Alam seriously by picking Zulkifli Noordin to be the candidate.

However, a lot has changed since 2013. But we must note that Shah Alam did not fall under the "Malay Tsunami" in 1999 when Keadilan (now PKR) contested the seat.

For one thing, there is now a schism between Pakatan Harapan and PAS. And contrary to popular belief PAS has strong support in some urban areas like Shah Alam, Gombak, Kota Raja and Sepang.

PAS has announced that Mohd Zuhdi Marzuki, the head of its internal research centre, will be contesting against Khalid. Barisan Nasional has yet to announce its candidate.

For me – and I am a very, very liberal Malay – Shah Alam was the hometown where you got away from distractions and just relaxed. Many see Shah Alam as boring for its lack of entertainment outlets and even cinemas.

Yet another Shah Alam joke – if you have a cinema, you're probably not recognised as Shah Alam.

But there is plenty of irony. Nobody knows how to describe Section 8. No alcohol or booze is sold in the city openly, yet a brewery is on our doorstep and it perhaps houses the only bar in Shah Alam.

More importantly, Shah Alam has a conservative Malay majority, and many students from private and public universities.

It is a showcase of young versus old, conservative versus moderate, a growing consumerist society judging by the malls being built and higher-income housing. Yet it also has a population that now gets angry with traffic congestion.

It is a city that has a police contingent, religious authorities right across the state mosque, and is the mamak restaurant capital with many becoming places for the youth to socialise while watching wrestling or football telecasts.

It is a city divided by class, with clearly marked out middle class, wealthy and poor areas.

Similarly, the industrial zones and the residential areas are segregated. It is made up of civil servants, police personnel, hospital staff from the government hospital and the state-owned Darul Ehsan Medical Centre.

Many residents are lecturers at UiTM, Unisel, Medina University, the PTPL College and MSU in Section 13.

GE14 will see a three-way fight between PAS, Umno and Amanah – it will be interesting to see whether the PAS old guard still holds sway or the grassroots has shifted its support to Amanah?

Or, will the split between the two benefit Umno enough to swing victory its way? It is an open question that has many worried.

But hey, why would we need a cinema in Shah Alam with this drama. Hold on to your seats and stock up on your popcorn. It's going to be an exciting election.

Hafidz Baharom is a public relations practitioner. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com