THE Batu parliamentary constituency in Kuala Lumpur can be described as a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
The area with its old houses is currently undergoing rapid gentrification as more and more new developments are taking shape there.
While being in close proximity to the city centre surrounding major landmarks such as the Petronas Twin Towers, there remain areas where residents still draw water from a well.
Just a stone’s throw away are modern townships with state-of-the-art condominiums.
Among well-known townships in this constituency are Sentul, Jinjang Selatan, Taman Dato’ Senu, and Taman Batu Muda.
Old residential areas such as Kampung Railway, Kampung Kovil Utara and Kampung Kovil Hilir are developing into townships of their own.
Its MP Chua Tian Chang, who is more commonly known as Tian Chua, is expected to defend the seat as the fine imposed on him by the High Court for insulting a policeman with vulgar words was reduced from RM3,000 to RM2,000.
However, there are also whispers that prominent activist Maria Chin Abdullah may be contesting in Batu under the PKR banner. Some even say that Selangor Tourism, Environment, Green Technology and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong (PKR) could be fielded there.
Meanwhile, PAS announced on Sunday that it would field candidates in seven seats in Kuala Lumpur including Batu. It did not contest the seat in 2013 when it was part of the Opposition coalition.
When contacted, Tian Chua, a PKR vice-president, declined to comment on his candidacy, saying that it was up to the Pakatan Harapan leadership.
“There are still so many things to be done in Batu and work continues. I have raised various issues with the local authority and developers on behalf of residents who are asked to relocate,” he said.
He was referring to the many issues involving early Kuala Lumpur settlers in Kampung Railway and Kampung Chubedak, which experienced rapid urbanisation.
On a macro level, he said they would also like to see a more accountable Kuala Lumpur City Hall and the introduction of local government elections for the capital city.
“But having said that, with or without local government elections, there is no excuse for bad management, bad roads, poor infrastructure as these things need better implementation,” he added.
The Barisan Nasional candidate tipped to run for Batu is Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai, who contested for the seat in the last elections.
Dr Lau, who has been working in this constituency for years, has the blessing of his party to contest based on Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong’s announcement of his candidacy last year.
In the last elections, Tian Chua garnered 41,672 in defeating Dr Lau with a majority of 13,284 votes.
Dr Lau described the seat as one with a healthy mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian constituents comprising all income groups from low to high.
“There are six People’s Housing Projects here, and issues that arise are cramped quarters, lack of parking lots, damaged lifts and uncollected rubbish,” he said, adding that improving their living condition would be top on his list if he was victorious.
“My mission is to raise the standard of living of the lower-income earners, and I have a plan of action for that,” he said.
He wants to transform Batu into a tourist hub and boost economy in the townships.
“This place is a melting pot of cultures. There are many places of worship here, with a lot of history.