From state to federal, Tanjung Malim MP eyes new challenges

Sylvia Looi
Chang is currently the Ipoh Timur PKR division chairman. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

IPOH, July 18 — Tanjung Malim Member of Parliament Chang Lih Kang said he is ready to take on the new challenges after cutting his teeth in the state assembly.

The 38-year-old Ipoh native first contested in the Teja state constituency under Gopeng parliament in 2008, which he won.

“After two terms as a state assemblyman, I feel I am ready for bigger responsibilities hence the transition from state seat to parliament seat where the learning curve is steeper,” he said.

“I also want to move out from the comfort zone and leave a relatively safe seat so new blood can be nurtured,” he added.

Speaking to Malay Mail, the father-of-two and Civil Engineering degree holder from Universiti Putra Malaysia said while the nature of the job for both remains the same — lawmaking — Parliament has more areas to look into.

“State’s power is confined to land, minerals, local councils and government-linked companies but in Parliament, there are way too many issues.”

Chang gained his early experience in politics through non-governmental organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

“I joined Suaram in 2004. I was enthusiastic about human rights and wanted to find out what makes society ticks.”

“As years passed, I realised if policy changes are needed, I need to get involved and by being involved, I need to join politics.”

He left Suaram in 2007, with his last post being the campaign coordinator for detention without trial.

Chang said he was attracted to PKR’s ideology and felt he could gel with it.

“It is more suitable for a multi-racial Malaysia,” said Chang of his party which he joined in August 2007.

He is currently the Ipoh Timur PKR division chairman.

On why he contested Tanjung Malim, a Barisan Nasional safe seat, Chang said he made a request to party leadership in 2016 to contest in Tanjung Malim.

“Initially I faced resistance from the people as I am new there with no networking. But I managed to counter that by providing services.”

As days towards 14th general election drew closer, Chang went in as the underdog as Tanjung Malim had always been a BN stronghold.

“But a day before Polling Day, I knew I could win due to issues such as Goods and Services Tax. The infighting among Barisan component parties also worked to my favour.”

He won the seat against Perak MCA chairman Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon, who is also a former state executive councillor with a majority of 5,358 votes.

Looking forward to his new role as a parliamentarian, Chang said he would be focusing on foreign affairs.

Chang, who holds a master in Public Administration from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, said foreign affairs was not given emphasis by the previous administration.

“South-east Asia is becoming more important in the region such as controversies of Spratley Islands and Pulau Batu Puteh. There is also the competition between the US and China in this region,” he said.

“It is high time for Malaysia to step up,” he added.

The fate of illegal farmers in his constituency would also be looked into.

“Farming produce from Tanjung Malim is exported but the farmers are working on land not owned by them. I will help them to talk to the Pakatan Harapan state government,” he added.