Ex Harakah Editor Riding Dap S Rocket Into Umno Stronghold
To his surprise, Tarmizi Mohd Jam’s family and friends did not oppose his plan to join DAP in September this year.
The former Harakah editor and admirer of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s speeches conceded that he was assailed by doubts at first due to the negative labels associated with DAP.
“Of course, I was unsure given the accusations that Umno (and PAS) often hurled at DAP. Those issues kept playing in my head.
“However, when I asked my friends, none of them hesitated,” he added.
“That is why we managed to gather 300 people to form a new DAP branch in Parit (in Perak) within two weeks,” he added.
The Parit DAP branch has the highest number of Malay members in the state.
Pakatan Harapan and DAP have entrusted Tarmizi, 53, with the mission to conquer the Umno stronghold of Gerik. He will be facing Umno Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki.
In an interview with Malaysiakini yesterday, the Parit DAP pro-tem chairperson spoke about his past political experience.
PAS first port of call
Tarmizi’s brush with politics started at the age of 15 when he became a PAS member. He then joined Harakah as a journalist after completing Form 6.
“I was really into politics and I joined PAS because I was attracted to then vice-president Hadi’s speeches during the 1980s. His speeches were among the best by religious figures.
“At the time, not many media organisations wrote about politics. Harakah became one of my major sources to know about politics,” he said.
Tarmizi made his electoral debut as a PAS candidate in the 1995 general election when he contested the Bota state seat - but he lost to an Umno candidate.
Following this, he was not fielded as a PAS candidate again but was promoted to Harakah’s editor in 2008. He later moved to Kuala Lumpur and became the Batu PAS division vice-chief.
In 2014, when the then PAS number two Mohamad Sabu and other progressive leaders were ousted during the PAS muktamar, Tarmizi and his committee also resigned, and this led to the party’s Batu division being dissolved.
The next year, Tarmizi joined the PAS splinter Parti Amanah Negara headed by Mohamad and served as the Federal Territory Amanah chief until 2018.
In the 2018 general election, he returned to his hometown and contested in Parit but lost in a three-cornered fight.
Sidelined in Amanah
Asked about his reasons for leaving Amanah to join DAP, Tarmizi admitted that it was because of internal problems and factionalism in Amanah.
“We, as the founders of the Parit division, were sidelined. This made us seek a different platform within Harapan to continue our political work. We were not appreciated in Amanah,” he added.
On picking DAP instead of PKR, Tarmizi was forthright about his choice.
“To be frank, the situation in Parit does not allow us to do so. We want both a boat and oars. In PKR, we would just be normal members and followers, unable to make an impact.
“That is why we set up a DAP branch in Parit with 300 Malays,” he said.
On the same note, Tarmizi is thankful to DAP for fielding him as a candidate, which he believed would help “revive the spirit of Harapan.”
“I never thought that I would be given the chance to contest as I am not a high-level DAP leader,” he added.
According to Tarmizi, Perak DAP chief Nga Kor Ming informed him that he would be contesting in Gerik instead of incumbent Pasir Pinji assemblyperson Howard Lee Chuan How, who was the speculated choice for the seat.
However, surveys indicated that a Chinese candidate would not be suitable.
“I would say this is a huge gamble for DAP. But I will do my best,” Tarmizi vowed.
Based on Election Commission data, Gerik has 44,754 voters - 72 percent are Malays, 13.6 percent Chinese, 4.8 percent Indians, and 9.6 percent other races.
Apart from the Umno Youth chief, Tarmizi will also be facing Bersatu’s Fathul Huzir Ayob. - Mkini
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