Ampang voters could see allocations drying up after Zuraida ditches Bersatu

In 2018, 91,737 individuals in Ampang cast their votes in what has been described as the most historic general election Malaysia had ever seen.

With a majority of 41,956 votes, Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin, who contested under PKR, secured a landslide victory.

This was when the groundswell against Barisan Nasional (BN) was so overwhelming that the coalition was booted out of Putrajaya, ending its six-decade rule.

The Ampang MP was then made Housing and Local Government minister.

However, Zuraida raised eyebrows when she ditched PKR to join Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia in 2020. That resulted in the collapse of Pakatan Harapan, but Zuraida emerged from the conflagration more or less unscathed. Her political career survived, and she remained in the Cabinet.

When another change of leadership took place last year, Zuraida ’s tenure in Putrajaya continued – this time, as Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister.

However, earlier today, Zuraida announced that she would once again switch sides, this time pledging allegiance to the newly-formed Parti Bangsa Malaysia (PBM). Zuraida , who is currently in Turkey, also said that she would meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob soon, to discuss her intention to resign from his Cabinet.

Her move did not surprise many, as talk of her jumping ship began circulating in earnest when PBM was formed last year.

Zuraida ’s latest move would mean that Ampang constituents had voted in a candidate who today, represents a different party, and that she may lose her office in the administrative capital.

Her detractors believe that the move will have little impact, since her presence in Ampang had been rather muted. However, there are those who insist that having a minister as an MP was valuable, and feared that allocations and budgets to carry out activities in the constituency would be slashed.

Prof Sivamurugan Pandian, a professor in Political Sociology from Universiti Sains Malaysia, said being a Cabinet member added value to an MP’s position and role.

“She (Zuraida ) is not only an MP, but is also a minister. Now, if she loses that, naturally, the allocations and budgets will be affected,” said Sivamurugan.

“It cannot be denied that this will affect the voters and the people of Ampang.”

Zuraida said she would continue to support Ismail Sabri, in line with PBM’s stand. To that, Sivamurugan said: “She can say that, but will the other parties support her and PBM?”

He added that the trend of elected representatives jumping ship and changing parties would only deepen the people’s distrust of politicians.

“It will just intensify the trust deficit that now exists. Also, these individuals are becoming more prominent than the party, despite them being dependent on the party for logistics, support, and manpower, especially ahead of an election,” said Sivamurugan.

“But we are facing more critical issues today. Politicians making such decisions are diverting (the attention) away from the main issues. People are already showing signs of political fatigue, and eventually, people will be fed up.

“And when people are fed up, they will take their frustrations out at the ballot box, or simply not turn up.”

Low voter turnouts were recorded at the Melaka and Johor elections held last November, and in March, respectively. Some believed it was due to the Covid-19 pandemic, while others say that it was due to the lack of trust following the shift in power at the national level since 2020.

Sivamurugan added he would not be surprised if the trend of low voter turnout continued.

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