'Not my focus to become PM' - SamsuriFARAH SHAZWANI ALI and NORHASPIDA YATIM
Taking into account the lessons from the Kuala Terengganu and Kemaman by-elections, Pas candidate Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar employed a strategy of campaigning less in eateries and suraus to secure votes.
As the Terengganu Menteri Besar, he said despite being 'attacked' throughout the campaign, Pas and Perikatan Nasional (PN) persevered, claiming to have sufficient resources to counter their opponents.
Samsuri said he was not focusing on becoming the Prime Minister, despite some linking his candidacy in the Kemaman by-election as a preparation for the role.
Follow the exclusive interview with Samsuri by Sinar Harian journalists FARAH SHAZWANI ALI and NORHASPIDA YATIM at Wisma Darul Iman, Kuala Terengganu, recently.
SINAR HARIAN: Can you share about how the campaign has been so far?
SAMSURI: Alhamdulillah, everything is going well and the Pas machinery has been working since two weeks before the nomination day. They went down to identify voters' sentiments.
At that time, the machinery worked as usual, regardless of the leadership's choice, they accept it. Everything is positive, with some obstacles like the rain, but we adapt to any challenges.
SINAR HARIAN: Some believe that Pas placed you as a candidate because the party lacked influential candidates to represent Pas in Parliament. Is this true?
SAMSURI: During the night of the candidate announcement on Nov 16, Pas vice-president Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said that the names of five candidates were submitted for the party's consideration, each with their own strengths.
A few days later, Pas President Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang said there was a certain reason why I was brought to the Parliament and we need to ask Tuan Ibrahim or Hadi the reason. As a party man, I am committed to fulfilling the responsibilities entrusted to me.
SINAR HARIAN: PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said you were brought to the central level and hinted that you will be the future Prime Minister candidate. What is your response to this?
SAMSURI: That's a speculative question and plans for the future will be made. Everyone can speculate, including political leaders making assumptions, suggestions and opinions.
For me, even becoming a Menteri Besar was challenging. But when given a task, I will do my best, as seen during my five years as Menteri Besar.
(However), I won't ask for the position. I don't have aspirations to be a Prime Minister, assemblyman or a Member of Parliament (MP). But when the responsibility comes, I will fulfill it.
Assigning such responsibilities, be it as a Menteri Besar or Prime Minister, shouldn't be our aim. People might not like us, but if given such positions, that's a different story.
But if it is a personal goal to be a Prime Minister or Menteri Besar, to me it is not suitable. It’s not about self glory.
SINAR HARIAN: Some Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders say that even if you win, you will remain in the opposition and won't benefit the people of Kemaman. What is your response to this?
SAMSURI: There was a question from a moderator during a recent campaign. It is a similar question. I said, could the existing government survive? and being in the opposition in this current government.
If this government is not able to survive due to its current performance, it's not a secret that its performance is very poor.
They are not efficient and there are various issues that existed.
In today's new politics, since 2018, government changes can happen. If the current government fails in its responsibilities, another government will rise.
SINAR HARIAN: Looking at the campaigns, BN seems to attack more, while Pas defends more. Why is that?
SAMSURI: Actually, our long-term strategy towards the people is to eliminate this old attack-and-counterattack politics. It doesn't build society because this 'vicious cycle' won't end anytime soon.
So, Pas sees this as a long-term strategy, focusing more on explaining our mission. That's the difference between us and the opposing party.
It's not that we can't attack because, in reality, we have plenty in our 'bag' to attack. But we're just repeating this 'vicious cycle'. In the end, we're satisfied with the attack, but it is the people who will feel the tension.
This is not good for the long term in our country and state. Continuous politicking is not good. But we believe that the people are becoming more aware and wise. In the end, the vote is in the hands of the people who evaluate.
SINAR HARIAN: If you are elected as Kemaman MP, what is the first thing that you would do or change for the well-being of the people in the constituency?
SAMSURI: We have already been the state government and I have seen the plans for Kemaman and the entire district in Terengganu. What is left is how to enhance agencies in Kemaman.
I see that we can improve the industries that will be entering. Strengthening the rail, cargo and other existing elements. InsyaAllah, it will benefit the people in the Kemaman constituency.
SINAR HARIAN: Is there an untold story that people don't know about you?
SAMSURI: There's nothing interesting about me. I'm just an ordinary boy from the village and suddenly given such a heavy responsibility in Terengganu.
Alhamdulillah, we've managed the administration well, instilling confidence in the people. I'm just another boy on the street.