The 2018 general elections will largely be determined by the intensity of the opposition coalition’s campaign, the public’s reaction to the ruling coalition’s electoral pledges and, of course, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
At the same time, the quality of individual candidates and the races they run will be central to the opposition coalition’s chances of retaining Selangor. With this in mind, here are nine candidates to watch in gauging which way and how hard the electoral winds are blowing in Selangor.
When Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari retired from UMNO in 2003, little did he know that he would be given the opportunity to contest as an elected rep for the first time in 2018 in the state seat of Selat Klang, his backyard having lived in that constituency for close to four decades.
It is difficult to imagine a more unlikely turn of events. Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari, a former deputy chief for the UMNO division of Kapar was an UMNO loyalist for close to thirty years beginning in 1989. Yet throughout the time that he held that position in UMNO, he was never offered a chance to contest in any of the state seats, a privilege usually reserved for the top three UMNO branch division leaders like himself. “I was ostracised by fellow members in UMNO simply because I was a professional. UMNO does not like the professional class as we pose a threat to their political hierarchy.”
A lawyer by profession, at the age of 66, Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari is set to make a political comeback with the hope of serving his constituents in Selat Klang as a state assemblyman, a position he had been vying for all these years. Having been recalled from retirement by his close friend His Excellency Dato’ Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and spurred on by events surrounding the 1MDB scandal and rampant corruption in UMNO, Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari felt that something’s got to give. “I could have enjoyed my retirement spending time with my wife and children. But I just could not turn away when Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told me how Prime Minister Najib Razak confessed to embezzling RM 2.6 billion from 1MDB. The fact that other UMNO members did not speak out on it, it was just unacceptable for me. It was just wrong on so many levels.”
He believes that the future of the country would be in safe hands if the opposition coalition comes to power. He notes in particular how the Selangor government’s Initiative Peduli Rakyat scheme has impacted the lives of his constituents. “My constituents are composed of mostly Malays, Chinese and Indians who make up the bottom 40 percentile. Since the Initiative Peduli Rakyat scheme was implemented, I have noticed that there are less social problems among my constituents. They are enjoying a much better quality of life compared to people living in states under the ruling coalition.”
If elected, he plans to increase more welfare programs to empower his constituents and abolish the GST. He says that many of his constituents are persuaded to vote for him and the party he represents because of the promise to abolish GST in the first 100 days if the opposition coalition comes to power. “Many of my constituents are excited about a change of government. To me, that itself is proof of a Malay tsunami. I am just happy to be part of that transformation and it is my dream that my grandchildren will know that when the time I came I stood on the right side of history.”