GE15: TRP’s Hot Seat Take: Is It Still Shahidan’s Arau?
Born and raised in Perlis, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim has served his home state throughout his political career.
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Umno’s Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim is about as synonymous with Arau as butter on toast.
Who is Shahidan Kassim?
Born and raised in Perlis, he went on to serve his home state throughout his political career.
He was elected as Arau MP twice, in the 1986 and 1990 general elections. For the next four general elections (1995, 1999, 2004 and 2008), Shahidan won the Tambung Tulang state seat under the Arau parliamentary constituency. He was the state’s menteri besar from 1995 until 2008.
In 2013, Shahidan returned to the Dewan Rakyat after winning the Arau seat in the 13th General Election. He was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. He retained the parliamentary seat in 2018 and was later appointed as the Federal Territories Minister after the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government.
Dropped from Umno
At 71, Shahidan was determined that Umno would field him in Arau again this GE15 but it was not to be. He was replaced by Datuk Rozabil Abdul Rahman. Despite having been an Umno man throughout his entire political career, Shahidan switched to Perikatan Nasional (PN) and is now their candidate for Arau. His Umno membership was revoked following the move.
End of the road?
This GE15 will determine if it is ‘Shahidan the man’ who is able to win the hearts of the people in Arau, or it was always ‘Umno’s Shahidan’ that the majority had voted in.
While PN is not that different from Umno, considering its chairman is a former Umno deputy president, this GE15 will serve as a litmus test for Shahidan. With polling day just days away, Arau is among the hot seats many are keeping an eye on.
In the last GE, Shahidan managed a 4,856-vote majority, polling 16,547 votes. The turnout was quite high at 40,433 (83.91%). Arau now has 60,876 eligible voters and 3,640 are first-time 18 to 20-year-old voters.
Will his supporters stay loyal to him? Can Shahidan woo the Undi18 voters? Looking at him on the national stage, it may seem impossible for him to win, especially after his performance as the FT minister.
During his term, KL experienced bad flooding and DBKL was criticised by urban folk over its handling of the Crackhouse Comedy Club issue, among others. Shahidan was also criticised for declaring a public holiday after KL City won the Malaysia Cup.
However, as is the case with all our Cabinet ministers, it matters not what the rest of the country thinks of them when it comes to general elections, it only matters what the voters in the area they’re contesting think.
All Shahidan has to do is convince a significant number of voters from among 60,876 people to choose him over Rozabil and Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) fresh face Fathin Amelina.
As MP hopefuls, apart from them being Malay Muslims, Fathin Amelina – a 28-year-old economics graduate – and Shahidan, are like night and day.
With Undi18 succesfully gazetted, Malaysia is finally acknowledging the need to include the younger generation in shaping the country’s political landscape. Shahidan may find it tough to woo the young ones but it should be noted that ‘generational loyalty’ must not be overlooked.
Due to the fact that Shahidan is not a ‘political frog’ and is a familiar fixture in Arau, he may very well be voted in again.
Verdict: Too close to call
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