BEFORE it was named Bakri, this quiet town in Muar district in Johor was known as Kampung Jawa.

The name was later changed when Datuk Bentara Luar Muhamad Salleh Perang, a prominent figure in Johor’s history, built a road in the late 19th century and named it Jalan Bakri after Sultan Abu Bakar in conjunction with the Ruler’s birthday.

This road in Bakri was once the longest and straightest in the state, thanks to Muhamad Salleh who also played a major role in the complete mapping of Johor and assisted in opening up districts such as Batu Pahat, Mersing and Muar besides solving boundary issues with neighbouring Pahang.

According to locals, Bakri – located less than 10km from Muar town – used to be busy with agricultural and livestock activities.

Businessman Chong Ee Fui said the village where he lives in – Kampung Kebun Sayur – was named during the British rule decades ago.

“My father was a vegetable farmer and sold produce to support his family.

“Bakri today looks different from before, now there are many housing estates and furniture factories scattered everywhere as Muar is Malaysia’s furniture hub.

“Though the landscape has changed, I find that the mindset of some of the people has not changed, especially concerning politics and the country’s affairs,” he said in an interview with StarMetro.Chong, 47, hopes to see political education added to the school curriculum to raise the rakyat’s knowledge about the democratic process.

“You will be surprised that many adults are still clueless about the country’s political and judicial systems, so the key is education.

“With Undi18 already implemented, it is even more important that we educate the next generation from an early age.

“They should be taught that their votes have the power to elect a leader of their choice to represent them,” said the Bukit Naning voter.

K. Samynathan, 41, a supervisor at a construction site, hopes the next MP for Bakri can look into the acute lack of foreign workers.

“Bakri excels in furniture manufacturing. The construction and plantation sectors also need foreign workers in order to thrive.

“The locals are not willing to do the jobs that are thought of as dangerous, difficult and dirty. But companies are having a tough time hiring foreign workers due to the tedious process.

“This issue has been ongoing for some time and needs to be tackled in order for the country to achieve its growth targets,” he said.

Samynathan, a father of two, is also taking care of his late brother’s three children and hopes they will have a better life when they grow up.

“It has been challenging and I have been getting help from my good friend who has provided me with necessities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

Meanwhile, university student Amira Syasya Mohamed, 22, wants to see better infrastructure, especially Jalan Bakri near her home in Batu Tiga.

“This main road is in bad condition due to the many lorries that use it.

“The potholes and uneven surface have caused quite a few accidents, some fatal, in the past few years,” she said.

Amira Syasya will be voting for the first time in the 15th General Election (GE15). She is still observing the political situation before deciding which candidate to vote for.

She also hopes to see more young candidates being fielded.

“There are not many young MPs and assemblymen serving in the country, so this makes youths like me feel there is a huge gap between us and the government.

“We feel our voice is not heard. When issues concerning youths were raised by one or two younger leaders in Parliament, they were ridiculed for their age,” she said.

Amira Syasya plans to take a few days off from her studies at her campus in Johor Baru to vote at her polling station in Simpang Jeram, Bakri.

The Bakri parliamentary constituency comprises the state seats of Bentayan, Simpang Jeram and Bukit Naning, with registered voters totalling 97,335.

In the 14th General Election, DAP’s Yeo Bee Yin won the seat with 38,718 votes against MCA’s Koh Chon Chai (15,507) and Mohammad Zahrul Salleh from PAS (7,575).

Yeo is not defending the seat as she has been fielded as the parliamentary candidate for Puchong, Selangor, in GE15.

Bakri will see a four-cornered fight between Barisan-MCA’s Datuk Chris Lee Ching Yong, who is a lawyer, former Skudai assemblyman Tan Hong Pin (Pakatan-DAP), RS Chelvarajan (Perikatan Nasional-Bersatu’s associated wing) and Independent Haron Jaafar.