PORT DICKSON,. Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad may have left Umno but the former Negri Sembilan mentri besar still wields significant influence over a small enclave of ethnic Malays who feel indebted to his past contributions.
In the town of Lukut about 10km from Port Dickson, Mohd Isa is a household name among those who live in the Malay-majority Rumah Rakyat Pekan Lukut neighbourhood.
Describing the neighbourhood as a small village cluster of single-storey houses built in the early 90s, 60-year-old Mustapha Karim said he has been living here for three decades.
“Tan Sri is very friendly to all of us throughout the years and have never fail to visit us even after he was no longer with us when he left to contest in the Jempol parliament seat,” he told Malay Mail yesterday.
A retired Municipal Council worker, Mustapha explained how Mohd Isa helped to secure a house for him when the neighbourhood was initially constructed and contributed livestock for slaughter during festival celebrations annually.
“Now that he is contesting on an independent ticket, I am excited to cast my vote as my show of support to Tan Sri,” he said.
Asked whether it bothered him now that Mohd Isa was no longer part of Umno and the Barisan Nasional coalition, Mustapha said it does not matter as he supported Isa “100 per cent”.
Mohd Isa resigned from Umno to contest the Port Dickson by-election as an independent after the party chose to sit out the poll.
Earlier yesterday, he also took the opportunity to pay his “stronghold” a visit at the Kedai Makan dan Minuman Kak Rozita, stirring up an enthusiastic reception with villagers showing up in droves to meet the man himself.
Like Mustapha, Muhd Syakir Dzul Ghaffar, 36, added that Isa’s support derived from the historical relationship shared between the residents whose ancestors became some of his earliest followers.
“It is not about his contribution, but the fact that Tan Sri came from an Umno background and majority of the voters here are of Malay ethnicity,” he added there have been four generations of people living in the neighbourhood since then.
Explaining the ethnic demographic of Rumah Rakyat Pekan Lukut, Muhd Syakir said there were about 200 houses in the neighbourhood of which at least 160 of them or 80 per cent were owned by Malay families.
“Like my late father who was local village head and a branch chief, Isa was there at the beginning when he was Telok Kemang Umno division chief in the 90s.
“So our history and relationship with Tan Sri goes way back,” he said.
One villager even exclaimed that Isa possessed the “personal touch” which made a lasting impression on those who received personal aid in the matter of health or children’s education.
“Every person including other ethnic races, he touches say they feel ‘invigorated’ by Tan Sri,” 42-year-old Razali Noor Hana said when met here.
Asked if any of the by-election candidates besides Mohd Isa have visited the neighbourhood as part of their election campaign walkabouts, all three replied that only PAS candidate Lt Col (Rtd) Mohd Nazari Mokhtar had done so.
According to the Election Commission’s latest data on the Lukut state constituency, the seat is home to about 17,298 voters, with Chinese making up the largest voting segment (54 per cent), just ahead of the Indians (25 per cent) and Malays (21 per cent).
Lukut is currently held by DAP after it secured a 8,405 majority when it contested under PKR in the 14th General Election.
The Port Dickson by-election will witness a seven-cornered fight including the PKR’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, PAS’s Mohd Nazri, and five Independent candidates, including Isa and Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, the former political aide behind Sodomy II.
Polling day is on October 13, with the early voting on October 9.