As I confessed at the Sungai Besar by-election ceramah in Sekinchan last night, I have been troubled by the question whether I am wasting my time in Sungai Besar by-election after my 50 years in Malaysian politics, fighting a losing electoral battle which seems a sure-winner for the UMNO/BN candidate.
My internal agony has deepened with the visit of the PAS President, Datuk Seri Hadi Awang to Sungai Besar today, as what he said has doubly confirmed that there is no way PAS could defeat UMNO/BN in the Sungai Besar by-election.
It is true that the PAS candidate nearly won the Sungai Besar parliamentary contest in the 13th General Election three years ago, winning 18,296 votes or 48.6% of the total votes cast, missing victory by a wafer-thin majority of 399 votes.
But the 2013 result was the best ever achieved by the PAS candidate in the history of Sungai Besar parliamentary elections, as in the 13th General Election, the PAS candidate was representing not just PAS but also Pakatan Rakyat (PR) comprising DAP, PKR and PAS.
The by-election on June 18 will be a completely different ball-game from the 13th General Election, as Pakatan Rakyat had been destroyed by the refusal of the PAS President to honour the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework, and there is a three-cornered instead of a one-to-one contest in the constituency.
There is no way the PAS candidate can win in Sungai Besar on June 18 – as the battle is between the UMNO/BN candidate and the AMANAH/Pakatan Harapan candidate.
In fact, the question for PAS in the Sungai Besar by-election is whether they will lose some 10,000 of the 18,296 votes the PAS candidate secured in the 2013 General Election.
What Hadi said in Sungai Besar earlier today only makes this likelihood very real, with the PAS vote in the June 18 by-election likelyl to be reduced to half or less than half of the 18,296 votes polled in the general election three years ago.
I regret that the PAS President came to Sungai Besar to tell untruths, even in holy month of Ramadan, making baseless allegations against the DAP and AMANAH.
Hadi claimed in Sungai Besar earlier today that PAS will “oppose what is not good and support what is good” but “AMANAH, led by DAP, good or bad, they will oppose all”.
Hadi had told three untruths, firstly, about PAS led by him, secondly about DAP, and thirdly about AMANAH.
I am quite reluctant to criticise Hadi as he has elevated himself to “God-like” status, equating criticism and “disloyalty” against PAS led by him as equivalent to “sin”. However the three untruths he spread in Sungai Besar about PAS, DAP and AMANAH earlier today cannot go unchallenged.
Firstly, PAS led by Hadi does not “support what is good, oppose what is bad”, for the PAS President is the only one Opposition leader in the country who had given moral support and backing to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, on his twin global scandals – the RM55 billion 1MDB and the RM4.2 billion ‘donation’ scandals.
Hadi had said that Wall Street Journal (WSJ) had to provide at least four trustworthy witnesses to back its corruption allegations against Najib – referring specifically to the WSJ expose in its report of July 2, 2015 on RM2.6 billion deposited into Najib’s private banking accounts.
WSJ’s series of reports last year on “Malaysia’s Watergate” on Najib’s twin global financial scandals had earned WSJ a finalist spot in the Pulitzer Prize nomination list in the International Reporting category and caused the New Straits Times group editor Mustapha Kamil to quit his job in protest against the mounting crackdown on press freedom and freedom of speech especially concerning Najib’s RM55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” twin global scandals.
Hadil’s support for Najib is not only rare but clearly much appreciated by Najib, especially with Hadi’s backing for Najib’s evasion of accountability and responsibility for the twin global financial scandals, by demanding four trustworthy witnesses – may be Hadi should clarify whether he also meant eight trustworthy female witnesses on the ground that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man!
Other PAS leaders jncluding the PAS Deputy President are allowed to issue statements criticising Najib and the 1MDB scandal, but the PAS President has shown that he exercises absolute power in PAS in overriding decisions by all other PAS leaders, which was why Pakatan Rakyat broke up and disintegrated because Hadi was not prepared to honour the decision of other PAS leaders at the Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council as he was habitually absent.
Secondly, what Hadi said about the DAP where DAP and I are equated as “unmitigated evil”, where what we said and did are all wrong, not only fly in the face of truth but also against his own assertions in the past.
I still remember Hadi’s praises for DAP in the past, expressing his “token of gratitude” for standing by PAS when the PAS Kelantan government fell in 1978.
Hadi acknowledged that it was DAP who defended PAS when the Kelantan government fell to Barisan Nasional which created chaos in the state. At that time, BN was working with PAS but BN did nothing to help PAS and it was DAP which defended PAS at the time.
But all the good deeds of the DAP in the past have now become “evil deeds” in the eyes of Hadi.
Thirdly, Hadi is also wrong in accusing AMANAH as puppets and stooges of DAP.
Surely Hadi can remember that in the seven years of Pakatan Rakyat from 2008 to 2015, UMNO propagandists used to attack Hadi and PAS leaders as tools and puppets of DAP.
Why is Hadi and the PAS leaders employing these UMNO tactics to accuse AMANAH as tools and puppets of DAP – when they themselves had been the victims of such false and baseless attacks by UMNO in the past?
The question before us is what could be achieved in the Sungai Besar by-election on June 18 to prevent the UMNO/BN candidate from winning, when the PAS candidate stands no chance of winning at all, and is struggling with the battle whether the PAS candidate could poll more or less than 10,000 votes in the by-election.
In these circumstances, every vote for PAS in the Sungai Besar by-election is a wasted vote, for it can only help to ensure the UMNO/BN candidate win on June 18.
Although the Sungai Besar by-election is a three-cornered contest, the real battle is between UMNO/BN and AMANAH/Pakatan Harapan.
The question is whether the Amanah/PH candidate Azhar Shukur can perform the political “miracle” and win the Sungai Besar by-election against all odds.
A political miracle in Sungai Besar by-election can take place if the PAS and UMNO members are prepared to rise above party considerations and vote in support of the AMANAH candidate to save Malaysia from injustice, corruption and abuses of power.
MCA boasts of more than one million card-carrying members but in the 13th General Election in May 2013, less than one-third of the over a million card-carrying MCA members voted for MCA candidates, supporting the Pakatan Rakyat call for political change in the country.
Similarly, if PAS and UMNO members in Sungai Besar by-election could also do the same great and patriotic act, to vote for AMANAH/PH candidate in a campaign to “Save Malaysia” from rank injustices and for an end to global corruption in Malaysia, then the AMANAH candidate can win Sungai Besar by-election.
This is therefore a three-pronged strategy for victory for the AMANAH/PH candidate, viz:
1. A higher voter turn-out and higher percentage of support by the non-Malay, particularly Chinese, voters in Sungai Besar;
2. PAS members rising above party politics to vote for AMANAH/PH candidate;
3. UMNO members rising above party politics to vote for AMANAH /PH candidate.
If this three-pronged strategy could apply and be implemented on June 18, then the next MP for Sungai Besar will be Azhar Shukor!
(Speech at the Pakatan Harapan ceramah for the Sungai Besar by-election at Sungai Besar on Monday, 6th June 2016)