SEREMBAN (April 24): Negeri Sembilan PKR chief, Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas, has moved to set the record straight over his candidacy for the Ampangan state seat by clarifying that it was a national leadership decision and not his request.
Party insiders had previously alleged that Kamarul was eyeing the seat as his ticket to being appointed menteri besar should Pakatan win Negeri.
According to them PKR deputy chief, Dr Mohamad Rafie Abdul Malek, was the rightful candidate considering that he had stepped in after the incumbent, Rashid Latiff, fell ill. Rafie was, however, dropped from the Negeri PKR candidate line-up.
Kamarul stressed that his main interest was in the Teluk Kemang parliamentary seat, which he is defending, and this was the only message that he had relayed to party leaders.
"Teluk Kemang already has five state seats," he pointed out. "Why would I want to add another one?"
"When (the leaders) asked me about a state seat I told them that I wasn't going to give up Teluk Kemang, so they had better give me a seat that wouldn't increase my burden and lessen PKR's chances of winning."
Kamarul added that there was no such thing as a particular seat being beholden to anyone including him despite his 15-year service to the party.
He also said that he had been ready and prepared to stand elsewhere eventhough Teluk Kemang was close to his heart.
"As far as I'm concerned I'm just taking orders from the national leadership," Kamarul stated.
"The leadership feels that my involvement in Ampangan adds to the PKR's strength in Negeri to win the state. And that is our mission."
Pressed whether he nevertheless did harbour aspirations to be the state's menteri besar, Kamarul replied that he was a party man.
That choice, he said, belonged to the party leadership and would be based on whoever could carry the workload.
"And even if it isn't me that's ok because I will have Teluk Kemang and Ampangan to look after," he laughed. "That's enough of a workload!"
Kamarul isn't a stranger to Ampangan having been raised there. According to him, the campaign trail has led him to people with whom he has discovered share his family ties.
Even the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for Ampangan, Abu Ubaidah, is reportedly a distant relative.
Kamarul's walkabout covered the Bandar Baru Ampangan area and Kompleks UDA, a neighbourhood shopping mall. Being a working day, most of the people he met were either office workers, retirees running errands and shopowners.
A couple of shopowners sent word through his campaign agents that they wanted a quiet word with him to talk about slow business or an ailing family member.
While many nodded in recognition when he was introduced to them, few exuded the warmth that comes with meeting a familiar face in a small town.