By Kamarul Ariffin Md Yassin
PONTIAN, Nov 7 -- Karmaine Sardini may have been defeated in Pontian in the 14th general election (GE14) but he did not allow the setback to diminish his determination to serve the people. Instead, he viewed it as an experience that would serve him well in the future.
So when the opportunity to represent Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election came along, he did not hesitate to take it, knowing that it signifies the trust of the top party leadership in him.
“Losing is part of the game. (But) the situation is different now. In Pontian I did not hold any PH post in the Pontian division. Pontian district has two parliamentary areas -- Pontian and Tanjung Piai. I am from Tanjung Piai.
“During GE14, the leadership decided to field the late Md Farid (Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik) in Tanjung Piai and I, in Pontian. It was definitely tough and challenging because Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan had won the seat by a majority of more than 13,000 votes in GE13,” he told Bernama in an interview here.
Although Karmaine was relatively unknown then and not so familiar with the situation in Pontian, he worked hard and performed reasonably well to lose to Ahmad by only a majority of 833 votes.
“It (GE14 defeat) did not weaken my spirit and instead I am very thankful that people could accept me just after a few days of campaigning. The current situation is different when contesting in Tanjung Piai, what more when PH is now the government (at state and federal levels),” he said.
“The decision for me to contest was not made by Bersatu...my name was proposed by the PH leadership, they were the ones who decided. I’m carrying the mandate of PH. It is not my fight per se but a contest between the party (PH) and other parties.
“It’s not about changing the government; we want to retain PH (in this constituency) so that the people can enjoy the benefits provided by the ruling party,” he said.
Karmaine, 66, comes with impressive credentials and a strong background which should endear him to the local populace.
A local from Tanjung Piai, he served as a temporary teacher at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Teluk Kerang near here from 1973-1977 before joining Kuala Lumpur City Hall as an architect (1978-1990).
He then ventured into business and became an imam at Masjid Al-Muttaqin Taman Sutera, Johor Bahru, apart from serving as advisor of Pusat Tahfiz Al-Irsyad, Taman Sutera, Johor Bahru and chairman of Johor Bersatu Religious Bureau. He was accorded the Johor District-Level ‘Ibu Bapa Mithali” (Exemplary Parents) Award in 2009.
Many view him as a religious person with a strong professional background, and these are the values he has impressed upon his three daughters and one son.
“First, educate them (children) in religion and then impress upon them the importance of knowledge and moral education, and noble things...religious factor. Take care of religion, insyaAllah (we) will succeed,” he said.
He was one of the pioneers of Bersatu in Tanjung Piai before GE14 together with Dr Md Farid, who was the Tanjung Piai Bersatu division deputy chief.
“In the context of Bersatu division, he (Md Farid) and I did make some plans for the community in Tanjung Piai, including at the party level, but they could not be implemented because he has left us (died),” he said.
Asked on claims that he was deemed too old as a candidate, Karmaine said he would not let such talk affect him and instead looks to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 94, for inspiration to work harder.
Karmaine is involved in a six-cornered contest which also features BN’s Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam, Berjasa’s Datuk Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz and two independent candidates, Dr Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar.
Polling is on Nov 16. The by-election was triggered by the death of Dr Md Farid, 42, due to heart complications on Sept 21.