Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Permatang Pauh - more than a seat at stake

MANY friends are making their way north. To Permatang Pauh to be precise. Some have taken leave to join others as the political merry-go-round make its way for a by-election scheduled on Aug 26.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, once Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's chosen one to lead the nation, is set to stand as a candidate after his wife and Keadilan's chief, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail, vacated his MP seat to pave the way for hubby to seek his way back into the Dewan Rakyat.

It's not yet known who else will stand. Barisan Nasional is likely to field an Umno local leader but this has yet to be decided. The cynics within Umno said they have yet to decide who to be sent to the slaughter house. Permatang Pauh, they say, is Anwar's stronghold and he has come to reclaim what he believed is his.

Anwar can't be too sure about that really. He may have solid reasons to believe so but politics is the art of the impossible. The PKR's de facto chief have seen it all, and he believes he has popular support and public sympathy behind him, no pun intended.

The recent debate on national television gave Anwar a God-send opportunity to showcase himself, especially to new voters and those who have not seen or heard directly from him before. He did put up a fairly good performance, enough to make some voters rally behind him.

Wan Azizah defended the seat on Anwar's behalf twice, and did so with considerable ease. Anwar was also said to be eying Bandar Tun Razak in KL but opted for Permatang Pauh as that is viewed a safe seat for him. No point taking unnecessary risks, he must have thought.

For the Aug 26 by-election, it will be the BN who will have to take the fight to Anwar. The task of marshalling the forces is left to Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak, Deputy President of UMNO, himself a Prime Minister in waiting.

To me, this is one by-election where a lot more than just one Parliamentary seat is at stake. Will Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi join the fray and make an appearance in Permatang Pauh, after all it's a seat within his state? In a by-election, it's not always you get to see the party chief joining the campaign rounds.

I'm told, and this has always been the practise in by-elections, the contesting parties will throw everything into the ring. It's almost like total engagement everywhere; no quarters asked, no quarters given. It'll be the same here.

You can almost hear it now - PKR will accuse the BN of using Government machinery during the campaign period; the BN will counter by saying Pakatan Rakyat speak with forked tongues and whip up sentiments to bring voters to their side. You can also hear various conspiracy theories soon, as the masterminds get to do some serious work soon.

How will Keadilan's bedfellows treat this campaign, especially PAS? PAS is having its annual assembly in Ipoh over the weekend and I'm quite sure party leaders and members will deliberate on this. Anwar's pending court case, though not a matter to be used in the campaign, may influence PAS' stand in this by-election.

If you are heading towards Permatang Pauh, and doing some campaign work, I suggest you bring along a sleeping back. Accommodation won't be easy but there's going to be plenty of Rumah Selangor or Rumah Johor and what have you. A by-election is also God-send to local entrepreneurs who will capitalise on this period to make the extra ringgit.

If, as the roadside pundits predict, Anwar wins, what happens to the BN, and more specifically UMNO? Those who have been through such battles before say the task for BN/Umno's is to try to reduce Keadilan's (Anwar's) majority. But first, we have to wait who will be Anwar's opponent.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you dato aat. Its going to be a BIG RAYA in Permatang Pauh. No two-way about it. As a Sabahan politician once told me... hari raya satu tahun satu kali tapi raya besar empat tahun satu kali (obviously refering to general election ), But as he aptly remarked raya yang paling besar bila ada pilihanraya kecil. Masa itu macam duit dan rezeki turun dari langit bah. one can just laugh at it but no one I talked to ever disputed this Sabahan politician statement of truth. Just look at all by-elections held and the last one observed was the by-election for the State seat of Ijok in Selangor. Throughout the campaigning period, one could see a mother of all development taking place in that remote town. And now at Permatang Pauh, the stage is all set for the windfall. Phooh, how I wish I am a registered voter there. The stake is all there. BN is all out to deny Anwar Ibrahim access to Parliament and lead the Pakatan Rakyat as the Opposition leader. The coalition which suffered damaging political tsunami during the March general elections is also hoping to use this platform to tell the world that the rakyat still supports them. Even a reduced majority will see the Govt and BN spin doctors busy spinning the facts in all mainstream media suggesting how Pak Lah and BN has return and that spells doom for PR. But the fact remains ... Anwar will win the seat regardless if he wins by only a single vote. Under present economic gloom in the country and whats happening to Umno, MCA, Gerakan , MIC and SAPP, BN is realy in shambles. Just look at the on going Umno branch elections and MCA divisional elections. Slowly but surely we are seeing MCA Gerakan and even Umno leaders crossing over to PR. And today Umno Bandar Tun Razak deputy chief has joined PR with his supporters. I think this is really a pressing time for BN but as it seems that the tsunami that hit the country on March 8 is not yet over. Though its very unlikely to happen, I think Pak Lah will win the hearts of many Malaysians if he decides to let Anwar wins the seat uncontested. He will be seen a a leader who tries to save the tax-payers money during this pressing time and save a lot of money that will to be spent on massive windfall in Permatang Pauh. But the fact that this will not happen as the by-election provides the best platform for Umno and MCA leaders for their forthcoming party elections. I am sure all the leaders will be there to meet and impress upon party members and fellow rivals of their intentions. The party agents will be busy , not meeting registered voters and securing votes for BN but securing votes for their bosses. And money is no issue. Remember, this is mother of all elections. THREE-IN-ONE.

Anonymous said...

Funny... some people, when asked to leave a comment, they leave an article!

Berita dari gunung said...

Anwar, being the trend-setter of Malaysian Political Race used someone else mouth to shout. He used Khalid Ibrahim's mouth to yell like hell on Uitm issue.

As always, trend comes and fades.