WILL the Permatang Pasir by-election confirm that Malay Malaysian voters and the youth vote is returning to the Barisan Nasional (BN) just as they were believed to have in Manik Urai? Will it affirm PAS’s place as an Islamist party in the Pakatan Rakyat despite the recent flaps over beer sales in Selangor, and over a DAP leader railing against Muslim “extremists”?
If journalists and observers were out to uncover these issues in Permatang Pasir, they have instead been sidetracked by a spectacular mudslinging match between the rival parties contesting the by-election.
PAS is making minced meat out of the BN candidate Rohaizat Othman‘s disbarment from legal practice, and has even dragged up as yet unproven allegations of a second wife to whom he neglected to pay nafkah. In asking him to withdraw from the race, PAS has also promised to reveal more damaging information about Rohaizat’s dealings while he was in legal practice.
The BN is attempting to go on the offensive with charges of embezzlement against PAS candidate Mohd Salleh Man. But the use of an Umno-linked blog to do this, without evidence, is about as empty as PAS’s claim of Rohaizat’s neglected second wife. These leave observers shaking their heads as to whether there are any real issues in this by-election.
The other sideshow taking place is the war of words over what PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Seri Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat might or might not have said about Umno members going to hell. It has given both parties the launching pad to trump their Islamic credentials over the other.
Besides that, the “traitor” theme is flavouring both sides of the campaign. While Umno is pointing fingers at Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a traitor to Malay Malaysians, PAS is pointing back at Rohaizat as a traitor to Umno for not disclosing his disbarment sooner.
The campaign enters the holy month of Ramadhan this weekend, beginning on 22 Aug. Maybe it will give cause to voters to reflect on the sorry state of politics before they go to the polls on Tuesday, 25 Aug.
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