Who will win ‘rapper vs teacher’ throwdown for Lembah Jaya?

Mention the name Syed Ahmad Syed Abdul Rahman Alhadad and you’ll see some locals frowning.

But mention him by his stage name Altimet, and people’s faces start lighting up, as they are familiar with the rapper/songwriter-turned politician, who is contesting in Lembah Jaya, in Ampang, Selangor, in the state elections.

The 45-year-old Pakatan Harapan candidate who joined PKR in 2021, may be a new kid on the political block, but he is eager to create a close-knit community in Lembah Jaya.

Although Syed Ahmad lives in neighbouring Bukit Antarabangsa, the Petaling Jaya-born believes he has done enough leg work ahead of the elections on Aug 12.

“I’ve spent some time here. I’ve done work in the area. Contesting under the Pakatan Harapan banner may help, but I believe voters today look at the candidate more than anything else.”

Lembah Jaya has 65,650 registered voters, with an estimated 65 per cent of them being Malay, while the rest are Chinese, Indians, and other races.

A former tin mining area, today, Lembah Jaya comprises residential, industrial, and business zones.

It is also the closest constituency next to, and outside Kuala Lumpur, that still has small villages. They include Kampung Ampang Campuran, Kampung Lembah Jaya Utara, Kampung Lembah Jaya Selatan, Kampung Datuk Mufti, Kampung Ampang Indah Permai, and Kampung Bukit Sg Putih.

“I want Lembah Jaya to have this ‘village’ feel – it’s pretty much the closest ‘village’ to the city centre. It’s the village spirit, the close-knit community, the peace and tranquillity that we want to preserve,” said Syed Ahmad.

Syed Ahmad also said many voters continue to call Lembah Jaya their home, despite moving out of their parents’ homes in the constituency.

“This is why we want to create something for everyone here – for both retirees and the younger generation – so they can continue to call this place home. We do not want retirees to sell their homes and move to other areas,” he said.

“I’m also aware of the complaints here, flash floods, and bad traffic being some of them. Some still complain about the Sungai Besi-Ulu Kelang Expressway (SUKE).

He said while there were those who loved SUKE, many are still against it.

“I know some wish for the highway to be demolished. But obviously, we can’t bring it down. We need to work on stuff that we can work on.”

His contender, Perikatan Nasional’s Sharifah Haslizah Syed Ariffin however, believes she may have an edge over Syed Ahmad, despite his star appeal.

The school teacher turned politician, popularly known as ‘Cikgu Sharifah’ says she is well-versed with the problems and issues in Lembah Jaya, having lived there for 20 years, and having worked with locals for more than a decade.

“The people in Lembah Jaya need someone who is willing to work, someone who will always be here for them, not just someone who is popular,” said Sharifah Haslizah from Pas.

Unlike Syed Ahmad, Sharifah Haslizah, 46, is not a political novice. She contested for the Bukit Antarabangsa state seat in GE14, but lost her deposit.

The former Ampang Jaya Municipal Council councillor believes that the time has come for Lembah Jaya to have its own identity.

“Banting is synonymous with the kerepek industry. It is time we set up something that is synonymous with Lembah Jaya, to create an attraction, so that people will want to come here,” she said.

“We used to have Bukit Belacan (a recreational area) where people could hold picnics while bathing in the river, but the area was closed down following the East Klang Valley Expressway project, and the authorities cannot seem to resolve the matter. We also feel that a scenic spot near the now abandoned Ampang Lookout Point can be developed, so it becomes an attraction,” she said.

The former mathematics and science school teacher added that safety was another concern.

“When I was in Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, we installed CCTVs and fencing in several areas to prevent snatch thefts,” said Sharifah Haslizah.

“That has helped reduce the number of incidents, but we also want the local community to play a bigger role in matters like these, and others.”

Locals Twentytwo13 spoke to said regardless of who wins on Aug 12, they hope the new assemblyman will make Lembah Jaya more liveable.

“There is always some sort of construction work going on in our area, but we are always left in the dark. The area is a peaceful place to live, but we hope the decision makers will be more sensitive to our plight, ” said a 40-year-old voter who requested anonymity.

“My grandparents, parents, and even I, live in Lembah Jaya with my children. All we want is for this area to have a more structured development, and for there to be more activities where locals can mingle, ” added the business development manager from Taman Kosas.

Another voter from Kampung Ampang Campuran who wished to be known as Chong, 54, said: “Leaders come and go. Since both contenders are contesting here for the first time, I hope whoever wins will work hard for us in the next five years.”

“Of course, we want to make Lembah Jaya prosperous. But we need our elected representatives to play a bigger role. Don’t just make promises and go missing later.”