KOTA BHARU – Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, the MP for Jeli who is fondly called Datuk Pa or Tok Pa, is a man in constant touch with the people despite his duties as a minister that often takes him away from Kelantan or the country.
His constituents know that they can rely on him for any help as he is as approachable as the ‘Pak Cik’ (uncle) next door.
Mustapa, 67, who has been the International Trade and Industry Minister since 2009, has made it a point to return to his home state almost every weekend since his active involvement in politics over the past 22 years.
Being the Kelantan UMNO Liaison Committee chairman and Kelantan Federal Action Council chairman means he has to travel all over the PAS-administered state to meet the people and ensure the scheduled implementation of all federal government projects.
The Jeli MP, who is also the assemblyman for the Ayer Lanas state seat within Jeli, has brought major changes to the constituency since he first won the seat in 1995.
As an elected representative, Mustapa projects a humble image and often dispenses with the need for protocol when he is with the people.
As such, it came as no surprise recently when a picture of him sitting in the public outpatient waiting room at the Kuala Lumpur specialist clinic went viral.
The picture, taken on May 16 and uploaded on the Facebook of Friends of BN on the same day, received positive comments and the people’s admiration for the minister.
“I had rashes, and had sought treatment,” he told Bernama when met in Jeli recently.
For Mustapa, waiting with other patients to obtain treatment is a normal thing. He also finds that it is a good opportunity to catch up with the people on the ground.
Back in his village, Mustapa can be seen attired in just a T-shirt and riding pillion on a motorcycle to go about to meet the villagers.
He finds this an effective approach to obtain the true picture of the people and hardships they face.
As such, every of his trip back to the state is filled with activities from morning to night. He meets farmers, fishermen, petty traders, civil servants, NGO representatives, people from the corporate sector and politicians, especially UMNO grassroots members.
“Datuk Pa even takes a taxi to go around Kelantan. I have frequently driven Datuk Pa to many places,” said taxi driver Ramli Mat Yacob, 58, who is also president of the Kelantan Taxi and Hire Car Association.
Ramli said Mustapa always engages in a conversation with him to obtain feedback on the people, including taxi drivers, and gives good advice.
“We received assistance from Datuk Pa after he heard about the plight of our 2,000 members,” said Ramli, who hails from Kampung Sungai Renyok, Kuala Balah, Jeli.
Jeli UMNO Divison executive secretary Roslan Mohamed, 52, said Mustapa always has time for the people in the constituency despite his heavy work schedule.
“He will visit at least 10 houses and attend all the feasts hosted by the people,” said Roslan who also often sees Mustapa praying at different surau or mosques to keep in touch with the people.
Mustapa is not embroiled in any controversy, and his policy of not engaging in personal attacks against his political adversaries has earned him much respect.
The manner in which Mustapa carries himself is his strength. He tries to get as many of the Kelantan UMNO leaders to emulate his example so that the party can win over the people in the opposition-held state.