AYER KEROH: While many voters in Pengkalan Batu might be grateful for Norhizam Hassan Baktee’s service since 2018, that sentiment might not be enough for him to be re-elected to the state assembly as an independent candidate on Nov 20.
Several voters met by FMT described him as hardworking and hands-on, though they expressed some disappointment with the way he has conducted himself in the past.
The former DAP man had courted controversy for arguing with villagers over a road closure in Bukit Beruang, prompting then Melaka chief minister Adly Zahari to apologise on his behalf.
More infamously, he was directly involved when the Melaka state assembly erupted into a war of words last year, with Norhizam repeatedly using the word “babi” on former party colleague Low Chee Leong, the Kota Laksamana assemblyman.
A 68-year-old Pengkalan Batu voter who wanted to only be known as Azhar said Norhizam was “quite a good assemblyman” who worked hard to resolve issues they faced. He said Norhizam had even made a house call himself to resolve a land issue that could not be addressed for the past 20 years.
However, Azhar said Norhizam’s hot temper and lack of self-control was an issue, especially for someone who should be a leader and public figure.
“If he was more relaxed and less angry, he would be a really good assemblyman. There’s also the problem of party-hopping. Many don’t like that, even I don’t. If I vote for him because he’s from a particular party but he then goes to another party, that’s just not right,” Azhar said when met at Taman MGBM.
Norhizam was a member of DAP when elected to the Pengkalan Batu seat. He left last year, declaring himself an independent state assembly member supporting the new Umno-led state government. In October, he was among four assemblymen who withdrew support from the chief minister, leading to fresh elections being called.
Another voter, 28-year-old Syafiq, said Norhizam seemed like a decent elected representative, based on how he was quick to address any issues locals might have.
But his fiery attitude was found to be a deterrent. Syafiq said he would probably not vote for Norhizam this time. “Usually I vote for the individuals themselves, not the party. But it’s hard to say, this time, because of his attitude.”
But Samat Ahmad, 67, had harsher words for Norhizam, saying Norhizam used to visit him frequently before he was elected, and had even left his handphone in his house several times.
But this quickly changed after he was elected and appointed an executive council member of the Pakatan Harapan state government, said Samat.
“Now when I see him, it’s like he doesn’t recognise me. Some say he’s good, I say otherwise. If he comes here, I would say the same thing to his face. He has no standards in the state assembly. Scolding people, calling them ‘babi, babi’. No standards. He doesn’t deserve to be an assemblyman. Now he prints shirts that say, ‘Aku YB ke Kau YB?’. That’s so arrogant,” Samat said in an annoyed tone.
Samat predicted that Norhizam would have no chance at winning this time as an independent candidate, quipping that it would be an achievement for him to even get 1,000 votes.
Political analyst Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said Norhizam’s fate hinges on whether Pengkalan Batu voters cast their ballots based on candidates’ emblems or personalities. “I suspect it is more for the logo,” he told FMT.
Norhizam is in a five-cornered contest for Pengkalan Batu against Kalsom Nordin (Barisan Nasional), Mohd Azrudin Md Idris (Perikatan Nasional), Muhamad Danish Zainudin (Pakatan Harapan) and Mohd Aluwi Sari (Putra).
By : Nicholas Chung – FMT