KUALA KRAI, July 8 (TheMalaysianInsider) – Raja Hussin Raja Ismail gazes at the grave of his friend as he rests under the shade of a gazebo.
His colleague continues digging as he tells the story of the late Ismail Yaacob.
“He came down to spend time with us very often. I had tea with him all the time.
“When it came to solving problems, he didn’t look at who you were. From young children to old men, he did whatever he could,” he said of the recently-deceased Manek Urai assemblyman.
Raja Hussin had himself dug the PAS politician’s grave when he died on May 22 and smiled wryly when it was suggested that after all that “Pak Su” had done for the locals, Raja Hussin had the honour of being the last person to serve Manek Urai’s best-loved son.
“I was shocked when I heard about his death. It is hard to find this sort of politician,” he said.
Wan Jusoh Wan Ismail is yet another friend of the five-time
assemblyman. They grew up together and were classmates in primary school.
“He was an extraordinary man. If you needed help that couldn’t be found in Manek Urai, you just had to call Pak Su, he would sort you out.
“He was very knowledgeable. If you had small fractures, you didn’t have to go to a clinic, he knew how to bandage it and apply medicine,” added Wan Jusoh.
Wan Jusoh’s 15-year-old son piped in that Ismail used to post bail for villagers here who could not afford it themselves.
It appears that everyone in Kampung Manek Urai was “friends” with the late PAS assemblyman.
Wan Jusoh claims that everyone in Manek Urai knew him and if you were in luck, you may bump into Pak Su at the coffeeshop.
“Even before he was an assemblyman, he was already picking up the bill for the entire coffeeshop,” he said.
Having grown up here, Ismail was buried in the local cemetery, and a humble grave with a simple plaque attached to the tomb denotes his final resting place.
Within the constituency but outside the village proper, Ismail might not have been that popular. Barisan Nasional (BN) supporters in Kampung Budi said they were not close to Ismail, but acknowledged that it was probably a matter of where in the state seat of Manek Urai you came from.
But it is difficult to argue with the statistics. Ismail had won four times in a row, even when BN fielded Wan Zaid Wan Abdullah, the son of the former assemblyman.
According to Wan Jusoh, Wan Abdullah had however been grooming Ismail to replace him and most people in Manek Urai knew this, thus rejecting Wan Zaid’s attempt to inherit the seat.
The last time PAS lost Manek Urai was in 2004, when Ismail decided to give up the seat. But he returned in 2008 to win a fifth term with a whopping 1,352-vote majority despite only 10,332 votes cast.
The question now is whether Mohd Fauzi Abdullah can emulate Pak Su.
Yesterday, the 50-year-old fishmonger promised that he would try to be like Ismail and said he was aware that many voters had picked Ismail not just because he flew PAS colours.
But Raja Hussin says that “Abe Uji,” which translates to Big Brother Fauzi, has already become very influential in Manek Urai and that the new PAS candidate appeared to be very similar to Ismail.
He said Abe Uji “is the sort of person who would let you buy fish from him without paying, even if you already owed him money from the last time.”
“If you needed the fish for your own business, but couldn’t afford it, he would still give it to you, saying, ‘Forget about the debt. If you can’t continue your work, how will you pay it off in the first place?'” Raja Hussin said.
For Wan Jusoh, Ismail’s demise was a great loss to Manek Urai and “you cannot replace him.”
But he is still optimistic that Manek Urai villagers may still have a good assemblyman, having heard that Mohd Fauzi was a candidate in the same mould as Ismail.
If this is true, then PAS may be able to bank on a legacy that will now extend to a third generation – from Wan Abdullah, to his appointed successor Ismail, to Mohd Fauzi, who sees Pak Su as his role model.