Dr Nomee – ‘heartbeat’ of Ahmad Faizal Azumu’s Tambun campaign

She may be the wife of a caretaker minister, but Datin Seri Dr Nomee Ashikin Mohammed Radzi is a woman in her own right.

A renowned paediatric cardiologist and paediatrician, Dr Nomee is the ‘other half’ of Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) parliamentary candidate for Tambun, Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu.

Ahmad Faizal is battling it out against Pakatan Harapan’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Aminuddin Md Hanafiah, and Abdul Rahim Tahir of Pejuang to retain his parliamentary seat.

Better known as Peja, Ahmad Faizal is the caretaker Youth and Sports minister, and once served as Perak menteri besar. He is also PN deputy president.

While medicine is her forte, Dr Nomee – a former Methodist Girl’s School Ipoh student – is no political novice.

Her father, Datuk Mohammed Radzi Manan, is a former state assemblyman for Tualang Sekah. Her sister, Datuk Nolee Ashilin, also served Tualang Sekah as an assemblyman for three terms, and is today representing PN for the Tanjung Malim parliamentary constituency.

Dr Nomee has been kept busy in recent weeks as she has been Ahmad Faizal’s ‘heartbeat’ in the campaign trail in Tambun.

Twentytwo13 caught up with her over the weekend, as she shared what it takes to be a ‘good partner’.

And just like any good doctor, she injected her views about PN’s chances and prescribed sound advice to election candidates in the final days leading up to the 15th General Election in Malaysia.

How has it been for you to be on the campaign trail with Ahmad Faizal?

Dr Nomee: It has been fun, but this is not something new. I’ve been on the ground with Peja since he was menteri besar. I also run a non-governmental organisation, and we have been working together to ensure that government aid reach the people.

This is made easier as we have an amazing team in Tambun. In 2018, I worked full-time to ensure we had enough money to campaign (in GE14). This time around, Peja asked if I could take four weeks off from work to be with him. As such, I worked hard before going on leave to ensure we had enough money to sustain our campaign.

Is it difficult to convince people to vote for PN when Ahmad Faizal was with Pakatan Harapan (PH) in GE14?

Dr Nomee: You are right. Peja was previously with PH, and now PN, which is fairly new. Confusion in Perikatan exists as the caretaker government is Perikatan Plus. People are still trying to understand this. We are also against a very, supposedly, big name (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim), but I think it is working to our advantage, rather than the other way around.

Why is it an advantage? Can you elaborate?

Dr Nomee: Anwar is the focal point of negativity, rather than positivity. That’s how we see it. Peja is treating Anwar as another candidate. This helps as we are not stressed.

What’s the difference between treating young patients at the hospital, and meeting voters, some of whom may not have proper access to healthcare?

Dr Nomee: Peja and I share the same passion. We realise that a lot needs to be done. In terms of welfare, some people do not have a safety net.

We have met many groups who work in the gig economy, single mothers, and even those who have lost their legs from diabetes, resulting in them being let go from their jobs. This is why we feel there is a need to push the agenda of ensuring that people have a safety net. Peja terms his politics as politics of service … it’s something that we both feel very strongly about.

Can you elaborate more on Ahmad Faizal’s politics of service?

Dr Nomee: For example, if you are waiting for a bus in Ipoh, you will be waiting forever. There is no good public transport system, but it’s not just here, it’s the same in Kuala Lumpur. Connectivity is bad. But if we can focus on getting our public transportation right, we can improve the entire system. Owning a car means paying road tax, insurance, petrol, bank loans, and maintaining the vehicle. If people have access to good, affordable public transportation, they will have extra money to use on their children’s education.

There is a saying, that behind every successful man there is a woman. Your thoughts, please.

Dr Nomee: We are partners, we are a team. I understand that his job entails him going around the country. He has a heavy responsibility. My job is to ensure that he does not have to sweat over the small stuff. It is also good that those around us view us as a team.

What is your advice to partners of other politicians who want to play an active role in the political careers of their spouses?

Dr Nomee: It really depends a lot on your other halves. If he or she understands that you are a team, then it makes it a lot easier. I am lucky because Peja is the one who says ‘Let’s work together’. I am also glad that I am able to take time off from work to be with him. The other candidates may not be as lucky.

What is something about Ahmad Faizal that people may not know?

Dr Nomee: People may see him as someone who flies off the handle very quickly. He will tell you off if you did something wrong … he’s not afraid in that sense. But he is actually a softy (laughs). I’ve caught him wiping his tears while watching a movie. He even shed a tear when his favourite golfer won a tournament.

Both of you are busy campaigning right now, how are your children taking it?

Dr Nomee: They are enjoying themselves without us around because no one is checking on them (laughs). Our eldest, Serena, is 22, and already working. She’s looking after her 17-year-old brother. She feels like a young mother who is doing a great job (laughs).

Any advice for those on the campaign trail with their spouses?

Dr Nomee: Have lots of patience but go out there and have fun, as this only happens once in five years. Take everything positively, as that will help a lot. As a doctor, I would tell the candidates and those accompanying them to exercise daily, and take vitamins.