Tea with Cikgu K. Parthiban. Bernard Khoo and I made it to Ijok after Jeff Ooi's hearing in the morning and the routine Tuesday's mi rebus at Maria's in Section 14, Petaling Jaya. Big Dog drove us there, with Nuraina A. Samad and a blogger believed to be A Voice as the other passengers. Jed Yoong, the Freelunch2020 blogger, was supposed to be part of the party but she had to go ahead of us due to work.
We got lucky in Ijok. Parthiban, the Barisan Nasional candidate was being interviewed by a group of journalists and we were promised "a few minutes" with the 39-year old education officer once the interview was over. I was not expecting much. Unless the subject is made of really good stuff, "a few minutes" is not going to give the journalist - or blogger - too much to write about.
Parthiban, we discovered, is made of some quite good stuff. In fact, as one of the bloggers said after our tea, the Opposition will surely win the Ijok by-election if Parthiban was their candidate! I agree. And that's not just because he thought I looked like Ramli Sarip or because he could even sing and remember the lines from the rocker's hit "Bukan Kerana Nama".
Q: Your opponent is Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, a big man. What do you think of him? Do you think you can beat him?
A. I've heard of Tan Sri. Yes, a corporate man. But I do not think of him and I do not think of whether I can beat him. I am thinking of what the people here want and what I can do for them. And I know what these are. This shop, I have been here since I was a young man. I grew up in this town. The people here know me. And I know them.
Q. More than half of the population of Ijok are Malays. Khalid is a Malay. You are an Indian. How do you plan to get the votes from the Malays?
A. I grew up with Malays friends ... and Umno (which is a Malay-based party) is theketua (leader). I have also been involved in a multi-racial youth movement in the area as its vice president.
Q. People say Ijok is a proxy war between Anwar Ibrahim and Najib Razak?
A. Tak betul (Wrong). This by-election is about local issues. And I understand what the issues are. And I am young and energetic and I can serve the people here better.
Parthiban has been taking care of four younger sisters since their parents died. Two of them are in medical school, one is studying to be an accountant, and the last one in college. Read more about Parthiban here.
After the tea with the BN candidate, we were joined by several diplomats from an embassy in Kuala Lumpur who happened to be at the coffee shop. I wandered to the back of the shop and met Mr How, a middle-aged man who owns the place. I asked him about Parthiban. "Oh, Cikgu kah?" (You mean, the Teacher?). You call him Cikgu? "Yeah, kita panggil dia Cikgu. Kita kenal dia dari kecil. Dah 20 tahun dia minum di kedai ini." And what does he call you, Mr How? "Dia panggil saya taukeh."
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