Kamarul Ramizu Idris
IT’S an expensive way to set up a party, but independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris believes the thousands of ringgit he will spend on contesting the by-election in Bukit Gantang is the best way to popularise himself.
He is using the by-election campaign as a platform to introduce himself to voters so that he will be well-known by the time he sets up his own political party, Parti Iman SeMalaysia.
“The short name is PIS,” Kamarul Ramizu, 42, notes, as reporters smile politely.
He paid up RM15,000 to the Election Commission prior to nomination day on 29 March as his election deposit and for election materials. Additionally, his campaign budget is between RM70,000 to RM80,000 for printing his posters and for accommodation in a cheap hotel for himself and his assistants.
On nomination day, Kamarul Ramizu denied that he was being sponsored by anyone else to split the votes between the Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS candidates.
He is confident of getting at least 20,000 votes although he will face two giants in Bukit Gantang — PAS’s Datuk Seri Dr Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, and BN’s Ismail Saffian. Kamarul Ramizu is viewed as a spoiler and many believe the real battle is between Nizar and Ismail.
But the independent is unperturbed, even about the possibility of losing his deposit.
“Saya tidak tanding untuk menang atau kalah. It is okay if I lose. Menang atau kalah, itu hak Allah.”
“I am contesting as a platform to introduce PIS. I will set it up after the by-election whether I win or lose. Contesting is the only way I can be known to the people,” he says.
If he becomes a Member of Parliament (MP), Kamarul Ramizu’s agenda is to help society develop a politics based on ethics and belief in God.
“Kembali Beriman, Kembali Al-Quran,” is the campaign motto on his poster.
PIS will be multiracial, and its foundation will be belief in God as the solution to avoid all the ills troubling other political parties — corruption, greed for power and conflict.
“We already have a pro-tem committee, with myself as the founder and chairperson,” Kamarul Ramizu says. He says he has never been a member of any other political party before.
He felt the “calling” to contest in the March 2008 general election, and he would have stood in the Sungai Siput seat but did not feel well-prepared.
“But now, after the various political crises the country has gone through, I am more convinced that I need to run for election,” says the motivational talk entrepreneur.
Searching for a sincere leader
He was born in Bagan Serai, Perak, but grew up in Taiping and went to school at Sekolah Menengah King Edward VII. He stopped schooling after his SPM.
Kamarul Ramizu with wife Haslinda Abdul Hamid, and baby Mohamad Zahirul Haq.
At 53 days old, the baby is the youngest of his seven children
He will automatically lose one vote on polling day on 7 April — his own. He has never voted and is not even a registered voter for the by-election he is contesting.
His reason? “I’ve never found a sincere leader I could vote for. I’ve read books and studied various leaders in Malaysia and in world politics, and I find that all leaders only want to fulfil their own desires. Hati mereka tak manis.”
But he does have a role model — Datuk Ibrahim Ali, the independent MP in Kelantan.
“He is outspoken and transparent, he criticises both Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS.”
Kamarul Ramizu was met by reporters on 31 March, the third day of the campaign period and he had just started his campaign. Why so late?
“I had to get all my posters printed first. I only have a small budget and I won’t be able to hold any ceramah. I’ll go on walkabouts to meet voters instead,” he said when met in Changkat Jering where his helpers were busy putting up posters near a bus stop.
Kamarul Ramizu says he is being helped in his campaign by 200 volunteers from throughout Perak who are members of the Persatuan Silat Gayung Pusaka Malaysia. He himself is a silat master and is married with seven children.
Changkat Jering is one of three state seats in the Bukit Gantang parliamentary constituency. The other two are Kuala Sepetang and Trong.
The umbrella is his campaign symbol and will be printed on ballot papers. Kamarul Ramizu thought it was the most apt of all the symbols provided by the Election Commission to independent candidates.
“I thought it was the most appropriate symbol for this constituency because this area receives the highest annual rainfall in the country.”
Indeed, with Bukit Larut (or Maxwell Hill) in the vicinity, afternoon thunderstorms have been a daily affair in Bukit Gantang.
Whether this independent candidate’s campaign in the hotly-contested seat will turn out to be a washout will be known when voters go to the polls on 7 April.