Temerloh is set to witness a mouth watering battle between two youthful political juggernauts after BN unveiled Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah to defend his Temerloh parliamentary seat on Tuesday.
With PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi already announced to contest in the constituency last April, the stage is set for two of the most recognisable and outspoken young politicians to come head to head to battle it out at Temerloh.
Pahang records the highest number of registered voters born after the year 1973 in the country at 61 per cent with the well known “Patin fish town” being second in terms of most registered voters after Pekan, at 65,308.
The number of young registered voters is even higher than the state’s capital Kuantan, which ranks third, making it as one of the major contributors to the percentage of registered young voters for the state.
It’s a no brainer as to why two youthful candidates were picked to contest here, with each having their own set of strategies to woo the constituents who majority are youths.
“To relate to young voters a candidate should not be limited to age, but must possess the ability to relate, show and address their wants and needs. In other words a candidate has to be youthful mentally,” Saifuddin who was the former Secretary-General of the Malaysian Youth Council (MYC) explained.
“Youths deserve a candidate that hears their voices, recognises their roles in the society and addresses issues in a relevant manner to them,” he said, adding that having worked with them during his stint at MYC, he knows the ins and outs of what youths need and want.
Born and bred in Temerloh by his parents who were school teachers, the 52-year-old Deputy Higher Education Minister said his focus will be mainly on education, sports, improvement of facilities and infrastructure for the constituency.
“Having served as an MP here for five-years, 30% of my budget was spent on education and my aim is to transform Temerloh as Pahang’s foremost academic and sports hub by setting a Basketball and Football Academy if I retain my seat,” he said.
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His track record is proven with schools in Temerloh recording the highest number of students acing the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations last year overall for the state, followed by one under-12 athlete representing the country through Temerloh’s Schools Basketball Excellence Centre, his pilot project under the Education Ministry for the constituency.
“About 1,300 of the voters here are university students, I’m sure they would recognise my work at the federal level, especially on reviving the soul of the universities and upholding academic freedom,”
Saifuddin who had been drawing flak from his constituents for not spending enough time with them already has a head start with a proven track record on paper despite his lack of presence, making it clear that he still has the constituents at heart.
Not to be out done, 43-year-old Nasrudin, who was born in Terengganu but was raised in the Felda settlements in Jerantut and Rompin, said he knows the plights faced by the youths in the settlements within the constituency extremely well.
“I was raised as a Felda settler so I know the issues that the constituents face like the back of my hand,” Nasrudin who will be contesting for the first time said, adding that he too has plans to transform Temerloh into an academic hub.
With Pakatan Rakyat having unveiled their manifesto for Pahang yesterday, Nasrudin said majority of the issues that he wished to fight for were issues dealing with land and housing.
“Ofcourse the focus will be on the youths, but i won’t ignore the plights faced by the elder generations as well,” he said, adding that he knows that young voters are clamouring for a change.
“With the advent of social media, young voters are more informative compared to years ago, leading them to have the maturity to balance between which information is right or wrong from both mainstream and alternative media,”
Like Saifuddin, Nasrudin too has had his fair share of cons with the most memorable one was last year on the whole Hudud debacle between him and DAP national chairman Karpal Singh.
He had uttered a remark suggesting that he was considering hudud for the country during a debate with Umno Working Committee Secretariat of Young Ulama chairman Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya which was organised by tabloid Sinar Harian.
Both Karpal and Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s Youth wing chief Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin lambasted him, with both affirming that the stance of the alliance between PKR, DAP and Pas on the Islamic criminal law was clear.
Despite being youthful and having the issues of youths at heart, a fact proven with each having a Facebook fan page and blog set up to get connected with youths within the country, both candidates are however a stark contrast compared to each other with one being a liberal minded and the other a conservative.
In the end, both candidates’ fates rest firmly in the hands of the Temerloh youths who will be casting their ballots come May 5th, with the stage having set to witness one of the most scintillating youthful battles of the 13th General Elections.