“They said Nurul Izzah ‘ran away’ from Lembah Pantai. The more accurate narrative is that Fahmi has ‘arrived’ at Lembah Pantai,” Fahmi Fadzil says with a smile.
The PKR communications director, who was more popularly known as party vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar's political secretary, won the mixed-urban parliamentary seat with a 5,598 vote majority in the 14th General Elections.
A testament that Fahmi is not just a ‘seat filler’; in 2013, Nurul Izzah won Lembah Pantai seat with 1,847 vote majority in a three-cornered fight, which included UMNO’s Raja Nong Chik.
“I was thankful for being chosen to contest Lembah Pantai. At the same time, I was also very nervous going toe-to-toe with Raja Nong Chik.
“No one believed that we could win Lembah Pantai. I still remember receiving messages from people telling me to contest in a safer seat, such as in Selangor,” says Fahmi.
The theatre performer and writer, who was trained in in chemical engineering, still finds it surreal that he won Lembah Pantai but admits that the electoral swing was evident in GE14.
“A lot of young people in Lembah Pantai were ready to vote for PKR or Pakatan Harapan, particularly in the areas of Bangsar and Sentosa.”
PKR won despite the odds stacked against us - the redelineation of electoral boundaries, me being a first time candidate and going up against a veteran
“PKR won despite the odds stacked against us - the redelineation of electoral boundaries, me being a first time candidate and going up against a veteran.”
Fahmi is returning full circle by winning Lembah Pantai as he was among of the young volunteers who helped out in PKR’s campaign since 1999.
“I used to put up party posters around Lembah Pantai. Two decades later, I find it surreal that I am on those posters.”
Fahmi has his work cut out. Lembah Pantai is one of the most diverse areas in Kuala Lumpur. It is home to the affluent and well-educated. At the same time, it houses many low-income residents, mainly living in Projek Perumahan Rakyat (public housing projects).
Overdevelopment and cost of living are key issues facing residents of Lembah Pantai.
“Bangsar residents are unhappy with the rapid development taking place. The sentiments are similar in Lembah Pantai. Residents from PPR feel that their community is being destroyed. They grew up in this area. They used to play here as kids. Now that’s being taken away.”
“Meanwhile, many residents in Bangsar have children abroad. They want to know if we can help restore their children’s faith in Malaysia - for them to return, work and build a family here,” says Fahmi.
“The main issue is - how can we help develop Kuala Lumpur and make it a better place? That was my campaign narrative throughout GE14."
The young MP has promised to revert Bangsar South to its original name of Kampung Kerinchi - one of the pledges he hopes to fulfill within his first 100 days in office.
“During the first Friday prayer, after polling day, I met a man at Lembah Pantai’s Al-Khadijah mosque. He started crying uncontrollably and asked that I help to bring back the Kerinchi name. He has lived in Kerinchi for generations. For me, to bring back Kerinchi used to be a theoretical and administrative endeavour. It is now emotive as it is something that is very close to the hearts the people living in Kerinchi.”
Podcast of the interview: