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Undeterred by the odds, independents doing their best as Malaysia GE15 campaigning comes to a close

Undeterred by the odds, independents doing their best as Malaysia GE15 campaigning comes to a close

Independent candidate for the Puchong parliamentary seat, Kuan Chee Heng who is also known as Uncle Kentang, at a market in Seri Kembangan, Puchong on Nov 12, 2022. (Photo: Facebook/Kuan Chee Heng)

KUALA LUMPUR: With the 15th General Election (GE15) campaigning period coming to a close, independent candidates have been stepping up efforts to garner the support of voters despite facing tremendous odds against them. 

Candidate U Ramendran was quoted as saying by the Star that being a first-time candidate in the national election has not been easy compared to candidates from major political parties. 

This is especially so when he has to manage all the challenges of running a political campaign by himself, without the help of big election machinery provided by political parties. 

Mr Ramendran, the only candidate of Indian descent among the five Independents from Johor, told the Star that some of the challenges he encountered include being asked to remove his posters as well as having friends ignoring his phone calls. 

In the Kluang parliamentary seat, Mr Ramendran is contesting against candidates from Barisan Nasional (BN), Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN). 

The seat is being defended by the PH incumbent, Wong Shu Qi, from the Democratic Action Party (DAP). 

There are 944 candidates including 108 independents contesting in this election, a record number in Malaysia’s history.

According to Mr Ramendran, another challenge he faced was being courted by other political parties but this did not deter him from staying as an independent in the election. 

“I do not need to toe the party line or hurt anyone within a coalition,” he told the Star, adding that he had no regrets in coughing up the RM20,000 (USD4,390) nomination fee.

Despite the challenges, Mr Ramendran said that he would continue to serve in the constituency even if he did not win the election. 

He also said he would not mind contesting again in the future. 

“People now know me and what I stand for,” he said. 

For another independent candidate, Zainal Bahrom A. Kadir, GE15 will be his last attempt to run as a non-partisan candidate. 

In this election, he is standing in Ledang, Johor, where he and another independent candidate are facing PH incumbent, Syed Ibrahim Syed Nor and challengers from BN, PN as well as Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA). 

Mr Zainal lost his deposit after garnering just 121 votes in the Johor state polls in March this year. 

For GE15, he managed to get contributions from the public to help him raise the RM20,000 needed for the nomination fee. 

Despite the huge challenges of standing as an independent candidate, Mr Zainal told the Star that he had no regrets of contesting in GE15. 

He expressed the hope that by having independent candidates like him contest in an election, the next MP would be more willing to listen and help the constituents. 

For philanthropist Kuan Chee Heng, also known as Uncle Kentang, this is not his first time contesting in an election. 

In March 2019, the social activist contested in the Selangor state by-election for the seat of Semenyih as an independent candidate. However, he lost after garnering only 725 votes. 

On Thursday, Mr Kuan released his election manifesto where he tries to entice the voters to support him with the promise of more help for the under-priviledged including the elderly and single mothers. 

Mr Kuan told Utusan Malaysia that his eight-point manifesto entitled ‘No One Left Behind’ outlines his plan to help the needy by providing facilities such as ambulances for the people, social assistance centres, online vehicle assistance, emergency services and food banks.

Mr Kuan, who is well-known for his friendly and charitable personality, previously won the Commonwealth Points of Light Award in 2021 which rewards exceptional voluntarism and service to the community.

In GE15, he is standing in the Puchong seat against PH’s candidate Yeo Bee Yin and two candidates from BN and PN. 

Independent candidate, Tawfik Ismail, also recently released his GE15 manifesto for the voters of Bagan Datuk in Perak where he is challenging the incumbent, BN chairman and United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) president, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. 

In his manifesto, Mr Tawfik who is the son of Malaysia’s second deputy prime minister, Tun Dr Ismail, proposes setting up a Bagan Datuk Development Corporation (BDDC), to help improve the living conditions and welfare of the people in the constituency. 

Mr Tawfik has said that he is running in the election as part of the new political reform group known as Gerak Independent (GI) which comprises independent candidates. 

Previously, the former Benut MP back in the 1980’s, had tried to stand under the PH banner but failed, thus choosing to contest as an independent instead. 

He said that he decided to run in Bagan Datuk to challenge UMNO president Ahmad Zahid, as a way of bringing back integrity and dignity into politics.

“I am under no illusion about my chances but I will give it my best shot,” he was quoted as saying by the Star. 

Joining Mr Tawfik in challenging Ahmad Zahid, are PH’s Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, and PN’s Dr Muhammad Faiz Na'aman. 

More than 21 million eligible voters will cast their ballots to elect 222 new members of the Malaysian lower house of parliament on the Polling Day on Saturday (Nov 19). 

Source: Agencies/ya(ih)

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