Monday, June 1, 2015.
Selangor Pas Commissioner Datuk Iskandar Abdul Samad's name may be well remembered as someone who was in the running to be the state's Mentri Besar, following the resignation of Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim last year, and recently this low profile leader is back in the limelight when he is contesting for the vice presidency post in the upcoming PAS election.
Iskandar's nomination from PAS to replace Abdul Khalid last year came as a surprise many mainly due to his preference to speak out only on work related issues and avoiding unnecessary publicity while continuously focusing in improving the people's welfare.
Speaking to The Malaysian Reserve in an exclusive interview recently, Iskandar seemed unruffled with the various issues surrounding his party and the Pakatan Rakyat coalition and was calm when speaking about the vice presidency post he is vying for in the coming party election.
"Actually I am not even campaigning for this polls," said Iskandar when asked about his preparation for the party election.
"I think our delegates know best on who they want to vote. They are not easy to be bought or influenced by anyone. When they vote, it will be based on their sentiment."
"I leave it to them to make the best decision they deem fit for PAS and our struggle," he explained.
Iskandar is facing a six corner fight for the vice presidency post where five other candidates include incumbents Datuk Husam Musa and Salahuddin Ayub.
The three other candidates are ulama leader, Idris Ahmad, Kelantan deputy MB Datuk Nik Mohd Amar Abdullah and PAS information chief Datuk Mahfuz Omar.
When asked about this election being described as a battle between the clerics and the liberal group in PAS, Iskandar said: "To be honest these labels were given to us by outsiders and the media."
"I have been labelled as a part of ulamak faction when I am not an ulamak, by profession I am an architect."
"I don't believe these groups or labels exist within the party. I don't deny there is a difference in school of thoughts but it does not lead to any factions as believed by others," said Iskandar.
The 54-year-old leader is optimistic on the future of his party regardless of the polls' result.
"Whatever happens in the party election, we will come back together as one," he said.
Commenting on many allegations leveled at his party by their Pakatan Rakyat partner DAP, the two-time Chempaka assemblyman described the squabble as a lifeboat to Barisan Nasional (BN) and that it does benefit the opposition coalition.
"We need to see who our enemy is. Our enemy is UMNO-BN and not among ourselves."
“The attack will do more harm to PR if it persists. On our side, we do not really react when provoked but of course sometimes we cannot help but respond if it's too much."
Adding further, he said: "We are facing the situation where BN is sinking with various issues, like 1MDB and leadership crisis, why didn't we use this opportunity to bring them down, instead of going against one another?"
Moving on to his portfolio as the Housing, Building Management and Urban Living executive Councillor, Iskandar is upbeat about the progress of affordable and low cost housing projects for Selangor.
"As the Mentri Besar (Mohamed Azmin Ali) had announced, we are working hard to achieve at least 17,000 units of affordable housings within two years."
“This is in line with the state government's aim to provide at least 35,000 affordable housing units by 2018,” explained Iskandar.
Iskandar who works from his modest office at Pandan Jaya since being elected in 2008 said he received various complaints from the public on bank's requirement to provide housing loan for them.
"We received about 45,000 applications for these units but somehow most of the applicants are facing loan problems."
According to Iskandar, one of the state government's way to tackle this issue, is by providing a fund called Danasel as well as renting out houses for the low-income groups for five years, before giving them the option to purchase it.
"Of course, the main problem is the high price of properties but the people's earning is still low. I wish we can do more about it," he said with a smile.
Iskandar also said the state government is open for discussion with the Federal government to curb this housing problem.
"We are open to work with the Federal government. In fact, I personally welcome any efforts by them. I do not see any problem to provide land if need be but so far there is no applications from them yet."
"At the end of the day, I am here to do what the people elected me for, to work for them. I’d rather fulfill my obligations than politicising issues when we can work for the betterment of all," he concluded.