Khoo Kay Peng
I read that Muhyiddin predicted PR may not last more than 2 years. Mahathir expected the PR to lose Selangor. A number of leaders from BN component parties are expecting the nascent coalition to crumble anytime soon. Leaders such as Khairy Jamaluddin are busy courting the Pan-Islamic Party (PAS) to join UMNO to unite the Malays.
What motivated their prediction? There were bickering in Kedah, Penang and Selangor. Over what? Pig’s abattoir, banning of beer in muslim majority areas, Kampung Buah Pala and other menial issues. Most of them opined that PAS and DAP cannot coexist due to their vast ideological difference.
For BN’s own survival, it is even more dangerous for the leaders NOT to acknowledge that their coalition faces even more daunting challenges e.g. lost of credibility, the death of Teoh Beng Hock in custody, racist media propaganda against non-Malays, Kampung Buah Pala, PKFZ, leadership crisis in almost all BN component parties, abuse of state machinery and public institutions, Perak power grab, corruption etc.
Many of these issues and controversies may not encourage the voters to support the BN coalition.
If the PR has two more years, how long does BN have?
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER
JULY 20 — Whatever support Datuk Seri Najib Razak managed to gain for himself with his recent attempts at reforms has now gone out the window along with Teoh Beng Hock.
Teoh, the political secretary to Selangor DAP exco member Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on a neighbouring rooftop below the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s building in Shah Alam on July 16. According to reports, he had endured 10 hours of questioning by the MACC throughout the previous night.
Later that afternoon, his body was discovered on the roof of the adjacent building. The police have quickly announced that there is no evidence of foul play.
Teoh was apparently not even a suspect in the MACC’s fervent operation recently launched against Selangor state assemblymen belonging to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition. What makes his death more painfully tragic is that Teoh’s fiancée is pregnant, and the couple was scheduled to register his marriage the following day.
Given the lack of public confidence in the police, the anti-corruption apparatus and the federal government itself, calls for a thorough investigation by an independent commission into the case can be expected for a long time to come.
When the anger and sadness that this incident is generating subsides, the fingers of blame cannot but point beyond the MACC officers involved, and at Najib himself. He will be called upon to clarify why his party and coalition should not bear the responsibility for failing to reform the police and the anti-corruption authorities from the bottom up, as recommended by an endless number of experts.
The suspicion will grow that the federal government under Najib — judging from the mix of tactical reforms and sly politicking — does not appreciate how badly compromised the federal apparatus actually is. Despite continuous defeats at the polls, his administration has continued to treat the success of the opposition as if it were the result of clever tactics on the part of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his allies, and not as a public outcry for clean and reliable government.
Criticism that his recent reforms are cosmetic and more tactical than sincere will continue to grow. Given the difficult times that the Pakatan Rakyat has had in recent weeks, Teoh’s death provides renewed focus for its disheartened supporters.
Unlike the few recent cases of deaths under police custody, this one at the Selangor MACC headquarters involves a young man known for his political engagement. His demise therefore carries great political implications, and will be a milestone in the nation’s painful history that future students of Malaysia will have to commit to memory for their exams.
It is a tipping point. “Remember Teo Beng Hock” will be a battle cry for a long time to come.
The ball has now landed squarely in Najib’s court. If he is serious about reforming Malaysia beyond foreign investment regulations and quota changes, he now has his chance of putting partisanship aside, seizing the moment, and acting as a national leader who realises how vital the integrity and professionalism of its investigative authorities are.
Teoh’s death is too big to be swept under the carpet, and will continue to arouse anger unless properly investigated. And even then, strong demands for some decisive action on the government’s part to make sure that no such thing will happen again are to be expected.
Needless to say, the many young activists who have arisen since the Reformasi movement started in 1998 will sympathise at a personal level with Teoh’s family. As long as the case is not openly cleared up, the misgiving will remain strong that it could have been any one of them who might have suffered — or may suffer — an end similar to Teoh’s.
Just a day before Teoh died, the ruling Barisan Nasional was asserting that the narrow margin of 65 votes with which it lost to PR in the Manek Urai by-election showed that the pendulum that had been swinging in PR’s favour for two years was now going the other way.
Indeed, Najib’s popularity had risen sharply according to a recent survey done by the Merdeka Center. Teoh’s death sends a reminder to voters that the police and the anti-corruption body are in pressing need of serious reforming. For PR supporters, their resolve to work for a change of federal government will be strengthened.
What one must conclude from this incident is that Najib’s chosen course of reform avoids his major challenge, which is to restore the credibility of the police, the judiciary and the anti-corruption apparatus.
As long as he sidesteps this duty, his other attempts at change will not be taken seriously. Indeed, even his allies within BN are feeling a greater need to put pressure publicly on Najib.
For starters, it would be wise of Najib to call off MACC’s blatant campaign against the Selangor government.
The writer is a fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. His latest book is “Arrested Reform: The Undoing of Abdullah Badawi” (Refsa).
Some 500 people gathered outside the Plaza Masalam building in Shah Alam last night for a candlelight vigil held to mourn the death of Teo Beng Hock.
Led by Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, the crowd paid tribute to the 30-year-old former journalist, who was described by friends and former colleagues as a good-hearted and friendly person.
Teo, who was working as the political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hean Wah, is said to have plunged to his death from the building.
He was last seen at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Selangor office – located on the 14th floor of the building – where he was brought in for questioning over investigations into alleged misappropriation of funds by his boss.
Addressing the crowd, Ean Yong demanded a detailed explanation from MACC and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over his aide’s death.
“This is a tragedy that could have been avoided if MACC followed proper procedures,” said the exco, his voice cracking with grief.
“He was only a
witness. I never thought he would not back.”
According to MACC, Teo was called in at 6pm yesterday and was questioned until 3.45am but was allowed to leave after that. However, Teo had instead chose to ‘rest’ on a sofa in the MACC office and was last seen at 6am.
His body was discovered on the roof top of Plaza Masalam, more than seven hours later – at 1.30pm – by a janitor. He had apparently fallen from the MACC tower block which is adjacent to the plaza.
‘Goes in alive, comes out a corpse’
Klang MP Charles Santiago told the crowd that a “good man went to the MACC (to assist them in their investigations) and came out a corpse.”
“How can we expect MACC or the police to protect the common man?” he asked.
The crowd also vented their anger towards Najib and chanted slogans such as ‘MACC murderers’ and ‘BN is cruel’.
Kampung Tunku assemblyperson Lau Weng San claimed that the ongoing MACC probe against Selangor Pakatan Rakyat state reps was nothing short of persecution.
“Najib has declared war on Selangor. He wants to take this state like how he took Perak,” added PKR supreme council member Badrul Hisham Shaharin.
Throughout the vigil, the participants who knew Teo recalled their final encounters with the deceased.
“He parks his car beside mine everyday. Now, I will not be able to see him anymore,” lamented Abdul Razak Ismail, the aide of Selangor exco member Dr Xavier Jeyakumar.
“I had meals with him so many times. I cannot believe that he is gone. MACC must pay for this,” a distraugted DAP party worker from Perak told Malaysiakini.
Fiancee barred from seeing his remains
Earlier in the evening, drama broke out on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam when the police refused to allow Teo’s fiancee to see his body.
“Please… please just let me see him once,” she pleaded, sobbing uncontrollably.
The pair had known each other for five years and were supposed to register their marriage today.
Counsel for Teo’s family Gobind Singh Deo expressed regret that the police only allowed Teo’s elder brother to see the body.
He also criticised the police for only informing the family that they could appoint their own pathologist to inspect the body at the eleventh hour.
Gobind said the family was given only about half an hour to bring a pathologist. He confirmed that three pathologist were already at the scene.
“We have asked for the preliminary findings but they have given naught,” he exclaimed.
Another Selangor exco member Ronnie Liu demanded that the attorney-general take stern action against those responsible for Teo’s death.
“If MACC did not take him, he would still be alive. MACC must be charged for murder or manslaughter,” he said.
Eyebrows were also raised as to why the police forensics team took almost nine hours to remove the body.
At about 9.15pm, the police took Teo’s body out of the building through the loading bay, avoiding the horde of journalists, photographers and vigilers gathered at the main entrances.
The police truck carrying the body sped off from the crowded car park en route to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, where a post-mortem will be carried out today.
It is understood that at least two forensics team inspected Teo’s body.
According to DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, Teo’s mother in Alor Gajah, Malacca, had been crying non-stop since she was informed of the news at 5pm.
“Friends and relatives (are) in shock,” he said in a Tweeter message.
Teo’s mother was consoled by former DAP secretary-general Kerk Kim Hock.
By SK English News
Selangor voters have given Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and his team a clear thumbs-up with a 64 percent approval rating.
According to the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research, 69 percent of Chinese and Indian respondents were happy with the Pakatan Rakyat state government, while amongst the Malays the rate was 59 percent.
Involving 1,360 telephone interviews conducted between June 5 to 15, the poll also found that 60 percent of the respondents believed the state was heading in the right direction, while 58 percent were satisfied with the government’s management of the economy.
Some 63 percent also expressed satisfaction with Khalid’s performance against just 19 percent which disapproved.
The Pakatan swept to power in Selangor in the 2008 general election, defeating the Umno-BN for the first time in the country’s most industrialised state.
Meanwhile, Khalid’s office attributed the good ratings to the “state’s welfare programmes, transparent and efficient administration and reduction of corruption”.
The survey, which it commissioned, also identified several areas of weakness, including a lack of communication avenues, lack of public awareness for programmes it was implementing and called for reduction of red tape and increase in provision of services.
Which way now… Will Kampung Buah Pala be declared a historic
communal settlement or be demolished to make way for apartments?
THERE is an old well, said to have been dug some 100 years ago in Penang’s Kampung Buah Pala, a charming settlement of cowherds and planters, which still provides fresh groundwater for many villagers. So remarkable is this well that during the national water crisis of the late 1990s, it became the lifeline for thousands of Penangites who made a bee-line to collect its water when all other supplies failed.
About five years ago, the inhabitants of this settlement – who trace their ancestry to at least five generations – were shocked when told that the land on which the well and the village stood was earmarked for a development project. The venture, which included four blocks of apartments, was called “Oasis”.
What had happened was that in August 2004 and July 2005, the state executive council reportedly approved the sale of the land at a premium of RM20 a sq ft or RM6.42 million. In 2007, the executive council halved the premium. The current value of the land is estimated at RM30-RM40 million.
What made the situation even more peculiar was that the buyer was a cooperative for government officers in Penang – Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang. The co-op has about 3,600 members – all civil servants who effectively made up the internal organs of the state machinery.
Villagers asked to see the alienation letter and transaction document, but none was forthcoming. They then sued the cooperative and the developer, Nusmetro Ventures (P) Sdn Bhd, and were vindicated when the High Court ruled in their favour in October last year. That decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal on May 11, giving the cooperative and Nusmetro vacant possession. Undeterred, the villagers took the case to the Federal Court, but on June 24 it too dismissed their case on grounds that they did not have locus standi.
“Our families have lived and worked on this land for more than a century, and suddenly we are told that we are trespassers,” said one of the village leaders, C. Tharmaraj. “Some day in the future, if my son asks me why I did not fight to keep this land, how would I answer him?”
What hurts the residents most is that by leaving they would be made to discard an important legacy. Their ancestors were indentured labourers brought in by the East India Company to work for the Brown Estate more than 150 years ago.
The owner and employer, Helen Margaret Brown, settled them in separate plots of land with space to rear cows and goats, and to plant fruit trees. The land became categorised as a vested crown for housing trust.
The idyllic village has been called Penang’s “High Chaparral”, after the American cowboy TV series of the 1970s. Years ago, when Penang’s general hospital was being built amid a shortage of infant formula milk, the colonial British administration relied on the cows from the village to supply patients and children with some 300 litres of milk everyday.
There are today 41 families and other residents remaining in the village. And now they want the land back. Most have refused compensation on the principle that land had allegedly been fraudulently transferred.
They have clamoured for the village to be identified by the authorities as a historic communal settlement, just like the Chitty and Portuguese villages in Malacca, or the Chinese clan jetties in Weld Quay.
But last Saturday, the residents were called in for a meeting with the George Town district police chief and the developers, and told to cooperate with a court bailiff, scheduled to serve a writ of possession today. The developer, they were told, could begin demolition after that.
The developments stirred an outpouring of emotion. Community rights group Hindraf barged in, demanding the state conserve the land as a heritage enclave – the only remaining traditional Indian village on the island.
And ironically, it is the Pakatan Rakyat state government, which only came into power in March last year, which has had to feel the brunt of the anger. But the state has been working hard behind the scenes. Deputy Chief Minister (II) Prof Dr P. Ramasamy even warned the developer: “If you don’t negotiate and provide a just solution with the settlers, you can expect to see a lot of hurdles … We are not a lame duck government.”
On Tuesday, the developer gave in, agreeing to hold back demolition by a month. It would buy some much needed time for the villagers and the state administration to work on new legal avenues and investigate the land transaction, to forestall the eviction.
Meantime, the old village well and the cattle that graze the grounds, will just have to wait and see if the heritage they have borne for so long will be able to endure for the many generations to come, or be replaced by concrete buildings.
Himanshu is theSun’s Penang bureau chief. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Wong Choon Mei [Update 3]
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said Kedah DAP’s decision to withdraw from the Pakatan Rakat state government was not final and needed to be endorsed by the party’s national central executive committee first.
“Only after receiving the official letter confirming the Kedah state committee decision, would I call a CEC to make a final decision on the matter,” Guan Eng said in a statement on Thursday.
“I would normally oppose such moves personally especially when based on a single issue and if there is still room to redress and correct the situation.
“However, the desperate nature of the situation and the breakdown of trust between Kedah DAP and the Kedah PAS Menteri Besar warrants a CEC meeting to endorse or oppose this withdrawal.”
Guan Eng, who is also Penang chief minister, said Kedah DAP chairman Thomas Su had briefed him on the situation before announcing the pullout. No date has been fixed yet for the DAP CEC meeting, he added.
The Pakatan, already due to meet on Thursday over the formation of shadow cabinet committees, will hold a top leadership council meeting this weekend to talk about the Kedah pullout.
Denting the Pakatan’s image
On Wednesday, Kedah DAP shocked the nation with its decision to follow through on a threat to withdraw from the PAS-led state government.
This came about after Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak refused to intervene in the demolition of an abattoir despite pleas from Thomas. There have also been other issues the two men have not been able to see eye to eye on.
Guan Eng defended Kedah DAP, which has been slammed for being emotional and uncaring of the overall Pakatan agenda.
“Pulling out of Pakatan Rakyat is a serious matter with large adverse national ramifications. For Kedah DAP to do so from the Kedah state government signals the complete lack of communication and respect from the Kedah PAS-led government,” he said.
“Kedah DAP had never sought any titles or Datukships but had been unhappy with the lack of respect accorded by PAS to DAP in Kedah unlike the respect accorded to PAS in Penang.”
Said Kedah PKR Youth deputy chief Gooi Hsiao Leung: “It is well within any party’s right to protest, or oppose or even condemn the Alor Setar’s Municipal Council’s decision to tear down the abattoir, however the DAP Kedah must not be carried away emotionally by making calls to quit Pakatan over this issue.
“It had taken a lot, and in some ways, a miracle for the PAS, PKR and DAP to come together and forge a united front to face Barisan Nasional. The alliance is bound to face tribulations and disagreements, however it is our duty to minimize such problems and to ensure that the coalition remains united.”
Complacency and corruption
No one would rush to say either is right, but can anyone say neither is wrong. It does takes two to tango.
Therefore the finger must also be pointed at PAS. As the party controlling the largest number of seats in the Kedah state assembly, rightfully, it must also be the one that displays the greater generosity of spirit and statesmanship.
In any case, there has been huge negative publicity created with far-reaching implications for the Pakatan partnership of PKR, DAP and PAS.
“Azizan has told me that he has given space and options on where the slaughter house can be built. I believe that we can discuss and solve this problem,” said Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, the Pakatan’s de-facto head.
“I was in Barisan for a long time and there were many disagreement but it did not make headlines.”
As pressure piles on Pakatan to tighten its management, the coalition must also take care not to lose sight of its original aim – which is to create a better Malaysia.
This Malaysia must be a Malaysia that Malaysians want, not what the Umno-BN press wants or even what the Pakatan itself wants.
If the Pakatan continues to understand what the people want, then it doesn’t matter if they quarrel everyday.
After all, despite the non-stop politicking and sabotage from the Umno-BN, both Penang and Selangor have hauled in record investments in the past year.
As long as the work gets done – and again this is for the people to decide, not the Umno-BN press – what is wrong with being noisy?
It may be annoying but it is also one sure way to keep corruption and complacency at bay. With whistle-blowers and trigger-happy mouths all around, who would dare.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDERBy Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — It’s ironic: talk of a unity government almost tore them apart but last night Pakatan Rakyat (PR) held a public rally which was for all intents and purposes a show of unity.
Thousands of people attended the rally MBPJ’s stadium in Kelana Jaya and heard Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim speak of their commitment to PR.
PAS’s Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Nasharudin Mat Isa did not attend the rally. The 5,000 in the crowd were clearly present as they enthusiastically cheered loudly for all the speakers.
“Tonight we prove the Umno media wrong; the Pakatan Rakyat remains united,” said Opposition Leader Anwar referring to media reports promoting the Umno-PAS unity government idea.
Despite the opposition coalition’s success in solving the internal problem caused by some PAS leaders’ insistence on holding unity talks with Umno, PR has come under pressure from Barisan Nasional (BN).
Last weekend, the prime minister announced a new merit-based government scholarship that attempts to curb the discontent of the Chinese community which has complained of being consistently sidelined by the Public Service Department in the awarding of scholarships.
And yesterday the government dropped the 30 per cent Bumiputera equity requirement for Malaysian firms seeking public listing.
These liberalisation measures appear to be similar to the PR’s reform agenda but Anwar last night insisted that the BN has yet to institute what he called real reforms, which includes eradicating corruption, promoted by the federal opposition.
“PR’s policy is to ensure that every Malaysian, the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians have equal place in the country,” said Anwar.
The Permatang Pauh MP who is facing his second sodomy trial in a decade also reiterated the party’s stand on the Malay language and mother tongue education in an attempt to pressure the government into abolishing the use of English as a medium of instruction for the teaching of science and mathematics, a policy introduced in 2003 which has attracted criticism from both Malay nationalists and Chinese educationists.
Kerajaan digesa mengkaji semula kos projek pembinaan jambatan Pulau Pinang kedua yang menelan belanja RM22 billion hanya untuk fasa satu.
Ketua Umum Parti Keadilan Rakyat Anwar Ibrahim berkata rakyat sudah tentu tidak mampu menanggung kos setinggi itu dan menyarankan BN meneliti semula pelan laluan jambatan itu bagi mengurangkan harga projek.
Projek Jambatan Pulau Pinang II dilancarkan pada November 2006 dan dijangka siap pada Mei 2012.
Jambatan 24 kilometer itu akan menghubungkan Batu Kawan di Seberang Perai dan Batu Maung di selatan Pulau Pinang.
Pembinaan projek ini bagaimanapun tertangguh ekoran lonjakan kos projek, akibat kenaikan kos bahan binaan serta kegagalan Kumpulan UEM memberikan sebut harga yang tetap.
“Saya tidak menolak rasional meneruskan dengan projek jambatan itu, tetapi saya musykil mengapa projek jambatan kedua diteruskan di laluan yang dicadangkan yang menelan belanja yang besar,” kata Anwar.
Projek ini berbilion ringgit ini dibina dengan bantuan pinjaman dari Republik Rakyat China, dalam usahasama Kumpulan UEM dan China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd (CHEC).
Walaupoun kosnya begitu tinggi, Kerajaan BN sudah pun mengeluarkan surat tawaran RM22 billion kepada CHEH-UEM untuk melaksanakan fasa pertama projek.
Pakatan Rakyat mencadangkan laluan projek ini dialihkan ke bahagian utara Pulau Pinang yang lebih hampir kepada Tanah Besar Semenanjung sebagai cara berkesan untuk mengurangkan kos.
“Berdasarkan kepada maklumat industri yang saya perolehi, ada cadangan yang dikemukakan kepada kerajaan supaya meneruskan projek di laluan alternatif dan kalau ini dapat diteruskan ia dapat menjimatkan belanja RM4 bilion ringgit termasuk gantirugi kepada syarikat yang dianugerah projek itu,” kata Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh itu.
Anwar berkata kerajaan perlu komited kepada perbelanjaan yang bijak dan menyelamatkan sebanyak mungkin wang rakyat dari projek-projek mega sebegini, supaya ia dilabur kepada sektor kesihatan dan pendidikan.
“Saya sekali lagi pertikai kedegilan kerajaan. Apa komitmen yang mereka buat sehingga mereka tidak mahu ubah perkara ini sedangkan mereka boleh fast-track pembinaan ini. Dari RM4 bilion ini, bayangkan kita boleh bina 400 hospital dan 400 sekolah tetapi sedikitpun tidak dipedulikan,” tegas Anwar.
Anwar menjelaskan Pakatan Rakyat tidak mempertikai projek ini diteruskan oleh usahasama Kumpulan UEM-China Harbour bahkan berpendapat komitmen usahasama ini diteruskan.
Apa yang ditekankan adalah laluan projek ini ditukar bagi menurunkan kos pembinaan supaya ia tidak membebankan warga Pulau Pinang dalam jangka masa panjang.
“Kita tidak pertikai jika rundingan dijalankan dan mereka bina projek ini di laluan alternatif. Ini lebih viable kerana projek yang dicadangkan ini menelan belanja lebih tinggi dan lebih sukar untuk rakyat pulau pinang bayar kos dengan caj yang lebih tinggi kerana kos yang tinggi,” kata Anwar.
THE MALAYSIAN INSIDERBy Adib Zalkapli
KUALA LUMPUR, June 30 — With the PAS-Umno unity talks behind them at last, Pakatan Rakyat will hold a public rally this evening in Petaling Jaya to show that the loose coalition formed after the last general election remains intact.
Senior party leaders including Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat and Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang will address the rally which organisers are hoping will draw about 100,000 people.
PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa, who came under heavy criticism for his part in the pro unity talks, is also expected to make an appearance tonight.
But the infighting within the Islamist party — which reached its peak during party elections early this month — caused by the unity government proposal made by Hadi is far from over.
The rally tonight which was first proposed at last week’s PR leadership council meeting has already being criticised by supporters of the Erdogan faction who are against any form of co-operation with Umno.
Political attacks targeted at Nasharudin continue despite last week’s meeting of pro unity leaders with spiritual adviser Nik Aziz that ended the public display of disagreement between senior leaders.
Just days earlier Nik Aziz had asked Nasharudin to leave the party after he responded positively to Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s remark that favours a formation of a unity government.
“Tonight’s assembly is to publicly cleanse Nasharudin Mat Isa, but a tiger doesn’t change its stripes,” said a Kelantan PAS official who is sceptical about the Bachok MP’s stand on Umno.
The Malaysian Insider understands some party leaders linked to the Erdogan faction believe that last week’s central working committee meeting did not solve the issue.
“They will be squeezed out, unless they are willing to be yes man in the party,” said former PAS vice-president Datuk Nakhaie Ahmad on the Erdogans in a recent interview with The Malayian Insider.
Nakhaie left the party in late 1980s in the face of strong opposition from PAS’s conservative leaders who were against co-operation with the non-Muslims and his approach in formulating party policy in preparation for taking over the government.
By Wong Choon Mei
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim has slammed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Umno-BN for launching a smear campaign against PAS spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat after the Kelantan Menteri Besar rejected Umno’s overtures for unity talks.
This shows that they feel threatened by Nik Aziz. I don’t think it is a healthy practise. He is a well-respected figure,” Anwar told reporters on Monday.
Nik Aziz, the senior-most leader in the Islamist party, has been the most vocal critic of Umno.
He even gave his deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa a public scolding recently for not immediately rejecting Najib’s offer to form a unity government with PAS and its Pakatan Rakyat partners.
Because of this, Umno has been targeting the 78-year old religious scholar, accusing him of being the stumbling block to Malay and Islamic unity in the country.
Meanwhile, Pakatan has scoffed at the Umno allegations, counter-accusing the ruling coalition of trying to split not just their alliance but the entire country by fanning racial sentiments.
Top Pakatan leaders including Anwar, Nik Aziz and DAP’s Lim Kit Siang will hold a rally at the MPPJ Stadium in Kelana Jaya, Selangor at 9 pm on Tuesday to reassure voters that they will fight together as a team to bring further reforms to the country.
Afraid to face Nik Aziz in public debate
Anwar also ticked off Umno for unethical politicking by picking on Nik Aziz just to gather support for the Manik Urai by-election due to be polled on July 14.
“Such a smear campaign against Nik Aziz is not necessary but I expect it to increase during the by-election,” said Anwar.
PAS’s Mohd Fauzi Abdullah will face off against Umno’s Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat in Manik Urai, a core Malay heartland and a key referendum on Najib’s acceptability as a leader in his own community.
Indeed, over the weekend Najib’s deputy Muhyiddin Yassin said Nik Aziz should seek forgiveness from God for likening Umno to religious extremists Ayah Pin and the Sky Kingdom.
The DPM was following through on a police report lodged by an Umno Youth leader who alleged that Nik Aziz’s comments were seditious.
“When a Muslim accuses another of not being a Muslim, well, I really don’t know what to say as such an accusation is a very serious offence in Islam,” Muhyiddin was reported as saying in Sunday’s edition of the Star.
Nik Aziz has denied the accusations and has challenged Najib to a public debate if the premier was still resentful and dissatisfied over the unity talks issue.
However, Najib’s supporters have rushed to reject the offer on his behalf.
“The debate will not bring anything. In fact, I believe now is not the time for the government or the prime minister to spend time debating,” said Rais Yatim, Information Minister.