BUKIT MERTAJAM, 27 May 2009: Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) elections director Saifuddin Nasution said today the party will focus on its Penanti by-election campaign rather than responding to Aminah Abdullah’s allegations that she was offered bribes to withdraw from the contest.
“We have notified our lawyers. Full stop,” he said at a press conference this afternoon.
“She keeps digging up one thing after another. On our part, we have sent a legal notice to her residential and mailing addresses, and she will need to respond within [seven days] of receiving the notice,” Saifuddin said.
He said that since the time limit for Aminah to respond was not up, the party would refrain from commenting further on the issue.
On 25 May, Aminah, who is standing as an independent in the by-election, alleged that two PKR leaders met her on 13 May and offered her money and posts to withdraw her candidacy.
She also offered as proof a 3 hour audio recording of the conversation, and lodged a report with the police, Election Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
PKR yesterday admitted two of its members had met Aminah, but denied that there was any attempt to bribe her.
PKR approval encouraging
Saifuddin said that the PKR elections machinery in Penanti had met with 3,374 voters to date, and had surveyed their opinions on state and federal-level politics.
Of those interviewed, 59% were satisfied with Lim Guan Eng’s performance as chief minister.
According to Saifuddin, 65% believed in PKR’s struggles, while 45% believed that Lim’s leadership championed Malay Malaysian rights.
Saifuddin said the survey showed that approval ratings for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak stood at 28%, and came mostly from homemakers and civil servants.
He said that PKR adviser and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim enjoyed 58% approval ratings, and this came from private sector workers, small business owners and homemakers.
He said these preliminary figures show that voting patterns have not changed significantly since the March 2008 elections, and the August 2008 Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election.
“This is probably why the Barisan Nasional (BN) did not want to contest in Penanti in the first place,” he said.
PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin echoed Saifuddin’s statements, saying that of the 17% of voters that Wanita had met in their door-to-door vote canvassing, 66% had pledged support for PKR.
Saifuddin said that the party was confident it would be able to meet the remaining voters in Penanti before polling day on 31 May.
He anticipated a voter turnout of at least 50%, which consists of hardcore PKR supporters.
“If the fence-sitters decide to vote, it could go up to 60%, and if some BN supporters decide to vote, turnout could reach 70%, but we are confident of a minimum 50% turnout,” he said.
Penanti has 15,384 registered voters, 72.68% of whom are Malay Malaysians, 24.22% Chinese Malaysians, 2.39% Indian Malaysian and 0.71% from other communities.
Public debate not priority
Saifuddin also said the party will not be taking part in the public debate for Penanti by-election candidates organised by elections watchdog Malaysians for Free and Fair Elections (Mafrel) tomorrow.
“Our candidate, Dr Mansor Othman, has a packed schedule, and we regard his activities such as going door-to-door, attending wedding feasts and mosque functions as crucial to our success,” he said.
Therefore, Saifuddin said that the party would leave the debating to the three other independent candidates — Nai Khan Ari Nai Keow, Kamarul Ramizu Idris and Aminah Abdullah.
According to the Mafrel website, so far only two candidates had confirmed their participation, namely Kamarul Ramizu and Aminah.
Mafrel has blasted PKR, saying: “A golden opportunity to make the Penanti by-election an exemplary election looks set to be wasted on account of some ‘kiasu’ mentality of PKR leaders involved.”
See also: Aminah: PKR never took action (Updated)