PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim got 31,195 votes, BN’s Arif Shah Omar Shah, 15,524, AKIM’s Hanafi Hamat, 92. Anwar won with a majority of 15,671.
Everyone’s offering their two cents worth of why UMNO failed in the recent Permatang Pauh by-election on August 26. So, this is mine. Since the media quotes big names, let me just tell you what the locals actually shared with me about this mother of all by-elections:
1) Do NOT SWEAR in the name of GOD.
It will backfire. Worst still, brings you shame. Makes you look as if you’ve mocked the holy book, and at the same time, insulted those who believed in it.
It seems UMNO has mis-read the Malay Muslim mind. Using the oath swearing by Saiful Bukhairy to show that Anwar was guilty turned out to be a liability.
When I was in the Tengku Bainun counting centre awaiting the final countdown of the P44 results, Tajol who sat next to me said: “If as a non-Malay, you feel ashamed about the Quran swearing episodes, what about me, as a Malay and Muslim? I feel doubly ashamed that they could actually fool around with the Holy Book”.
According to him, this strategy by the BN to bring Anwar down, had backfired badly, leading to their loses.
A Malay hawker outside of the ceramah sites in Jalan Baru, Seberang Jaya told me:”We do not believe the sodomy allegations, especially the second time.
But we believe Najib (Tun Razak) has something to do with the Altantuya (Sharriibuu) case”.
Eventhough Najib also has taken an oath in the Guar Perahu mosque that he did not know Altantuya.
2) Voters DO NOT NEED a representative who can speak their mother tongue-language, they need one who can speak the language of justice, freedom, anti-corruption and anti-racism.
“You want an MP who can speak Chinese?” asked Hu Pang Chow, PAS’ fan club representative and official at a ceramah in Tanah Liat.
“Come to Kelantan, we have hundreds of Malays who can speak and write Chinese. Let’s have a debate between one of them and Arif Shah”.
3) Campaign strategy must be based on issues and not personality trashing, vilification, and slander.
A local journalist said to me: “You think Permatang Pauh voters are stupid? That they only rely on Anwar’s personality to vote for him? That was 1998.
This time around, PKR or rather PAKATAN RAKYAT leaders did not focus and stress so much on Anwar’s personality but issues affecting the rakyat , such as sound economic policies, reduction in fuel prices, multi-racial politics.
On the other hand, he added, the BN’s campaign was littered with all kinds of accusations against Anwar. Overplaying the SAIFUL SWEAR was a disaster. People just got tired of it.
4) The more you beat Anwar, the more the people love him.
UMNO failed to understand that human beings have ‘hearts, conscience and sympathy’ towards another fellow human being.
People of all races in this country ’empathised’ with Anwar and his family, not because of him personally, but because the people see it as a possible affliction upon themselves by state authority, thus uniting them, irregardless of race, religion, culture and social standing.
A Malaysian Indian doctor, who used to be 100 percent behind BN/MIC had this to say: Look at (Wan) Azizah (Wan) Ismail, Anwar’s wife. She is an intelligent and kind woman. If she believes Anwar, could he be so bad after all?
“I used to support BN/MIC all my life but when they started harassing Anwar with the sodomy allegations the second time, I gave up.
“Moreover, I pray everyday, and it is not right to witness injustice and not do anything about it. Hurting Anwar’s family is too much if UMNO just want to maintain power”.
5) The Anti-Corruption Agency has totally lost credibility:
The same doctor who spoke about Anwar threw an NST paper on the table when I walked in to see her about medication for high blood pressure (yes! I do have HBP).
On that particular day, news of the two PERAK PKR exco members involved in monetary and sexual graft had grabbed top spot on the front page with incriminating photos of the two with handcuffs.
And they had only been arrested for questioning and not charged yet.
The normally reserved doctor was aghast. ‘This is all bluff !!! Just because we have a PERMATANG PAUH by-election,’ she said ,stressing on the word P-E-R-M-A-T-A-N-G P-A-U-H.
“Come on, what about the UMNO guys who have been doing deals for 50 years??? What happenned to all of them?”
Now that the two PKR officials has not been charged but will have their case mentioned on September 15 (a day before Anwar’s September 16). This raises eye brows as to the independence of the ACA.
What the ACA actually is does not matter, the timing of the arrests, the PERAK ACA director’s involvement in announcing the case, and the postponement of the charges have created a big question mark in the public’s mind.
The duo are suing the ACA.
6) The ‘mainstream’ (actually UMNO owned) paper was another liability:
The doctor’s husband who is a lawyer in Penang calls me up often to find out about the recent happenings in Malaysia.
“Because if you are here, I do not need to read the papers anymore. I don’t know if they are telling the truth or not. I just read the sports pages”.
One example was the explosive revelation by Ustaz Ramlang Porigi that he was ‘ordered’ to witness Saiful Bukhairy oath on the Quran that he was sodomised by Anwar. The MSM gave the news little or no coverage at all.
Some reporters explained that they could not make it for the day’s deadline.
Still, the public mind who could not phantom such a thing immediately concluded that the controversial news was blacked out.
This is really a big blow and big insult to the countless hardworking reporters I know on the ground. Their paymasters and agency heads really owe them an explanation as to why their stories are edited to the extend that it may not represent the real picture.
“The quality is so bad, it’s not even good enough to be used as toilet paper”. I felt quite bad for my journo friends in the MSM actually.
At the counting centre, when I wanted to make way pass the crowd, I was let in easily when I said I was from ‘Malaysiakini’. “Oh, Malaysiakini, tak apa…boleh lalu, kalau paper lain…”
(To be continued…)