Pakatan tells Penanti: Look at Perak and reject Umno-BN
By Wong Choon Mei
Pakatan Rakyat leaders fired the first salvo in Penanti, urging voters there to stand up for neighbouring Perak state by telling Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Umno-BN coalition in no uncertain terms that Malaysians will not brook any loss of their democratic rights.
“We must send a strong protest signal against BN that the people will no longer tolerate their despotic rule,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim.
“And the way to do this is to increase voter turnout and increase the majority votes from what we gained in the last general elections.”
The reform icon was speaking before a huge crowd of thousands at a ceramah or political lecture in the electorate, a core Malay heartland and part of his Permatang Pauh stronghold.
His view were echoed by other top Pakatan leaders – DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Hadi Awang.
Both Hadi and Kit Siang urged Malaysians to reject the Umno-BN as it had failed the people, and was increasingly resorting to abusing the country’s system and robbing its institutions of every drop of credibility.
There was no better example than Perak, which remains been plunged in turmoil as a power-crazed Najib refused to heed either the wishes of the people there nor the rule of law, they added.
“Never mind that this by-election is not as vibrant as other by-elections. Penanti is important because the increase of votes for Pakatan would send a strong signal that the people are rejecting the BN government,” Kit Siang said.
Treachery from hidden Umno-BN hands
At Penanti, Pakatan has fielded PKR Penang deputy chief Mansor Othman. The 56-year old former USM lecturer will face three Independent candidates in the by-election – Aminah Abdullah, Nai Khan and Kamarul Ramizu Idris.
Arch rival Umno has decided against contesting, having lost in four of the past five by-elections.
However, Najib is widely expected to quietly back either one or even all three of the Independents to spoil the Pakatan’s chances, while at the same time shielding himself from the political consequences of a loss.
Already Aminah, a former PKR Wanita member, is spreading news that Pakatan agents tried to lure her from contesting by offering ‘bribes’.
Her accusations sparked an immediate denial from PKR leaders.
“We will resort to other actions, including legal means, on these complainants if they failed to prove their claims,” said Tian Chua, PKR director of strategic affairs.
“I am sure no PKR leaders were engaged in such unhealthy activities.”
Independents the new trend as the Umno-BN brand becomes unmarketable
Tian also said there was now an unmistakable trend of Independents taking part in by-elections despite the huge costs involved. In nine cases out of 10, candidates ended up losing the hefty RM15,000 campaign deposit.
“The BN symbol has become so unmarketable, it is now the trend to go in as Independent if you can’t run for the Pakatan. Your chances would be better, the dacing (BN’s trademark) would be a sure loss anywhere in Malaysia now,” Tian said.
Of the three Independents, the 41-year old Nai has the most direct links to Umno-BN. He quit as Gerakan Youth chief of Teluk Wang branch on May 19 just so that he could contest as an Independent. “Contesting in Penanti is like cat fighting a tiger. But I am not afraid,” he said.
Another aspirant Mohd Saberi Othman was formerly an aide to Abdullah Badawi, the previous Umno president and premier. But as the heat of speculation grew that he was a front for Umno, his candidacy was suddenly pulled back for ‘technical errors’, sparking talk that his case had become too obvious and would embarrass Umno.
As for Kamarul, president of unknown Parti Iman Semalaysia, this is his second outing as an Independent in as many months. In April, he secured only 62 votes in the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election, eventually won by Pakatan Perak Menteri Besar Nizar Jamaluddin.
Said Kamarul: “I want to promote the system of sekolah pondok (a religious primary schooling system) to the world and hope that private sector and individuals can help to develop this pondok in Penanti.”
Kamarul admits that to participate in any by-election, a candidate would need to stump out at least RM30,000 to RM40,000.
Said Saifuddin Nasution, PKR election director: “We cannot sit on our laurels thinking that a win is a mere formality. We have to work for it.”