PAS and PKR take offence in the Penang Malay Congress' offer to play the role of a third force in the state.
Congress president Rahmad Isahak was quoted as claiming that PKR and PAS, as partners of DAP under the auspicious of Pakatan Rakyat, had failed to live up to the expectations of the Malay community here.
Therefore, DAP as the dominant party here, must field Malay candidates to reflect their sincerity in championing the plight of the community, particularly on addressing the socio-economic imbalances between the various races here, Rahmad had reportedly said.
He claimed that the Malays here have rejected PKR and PAS because the duo had apparently failed to address the grievances of the community.
DAP has 19 state seats, PAS one and PKR nine. Of the 19 seats held by DAP, 15 assemblymen are of Chinese origins while four are of Indian descent.
Rahmad threatened that if DAP refused to field Malay candidates, the congress would then consider entering the election as the third political alternate to either Pakatan or Barisan Nasional (BN).
He also disclosed that the Malays in Penang are just some 5% behind the Chinese in terms of population numbers, thus it should be given a bigger say in how the state government is managed here.
To this, Penang PAS commissioner Salleh Man asked the congress to stop harping on the need for DAP to field Malay candidates and support PAS instead in the next election.
Salleh said what the community needed was for more Malay representatives to be elected into the Pakatan government, should it continue to hang on to Penang in the next election.
‘Stop confusing Malays’
These representatives should come from either PAS or PKR, who are the mainstays in the Pakatan set-up, not third parties like the congress.
PAS has expressed an intention to contest two parliament and four state seats in the next election, an increase of one seat.
The congress should support PAS in ensuring that more Malay assemblymen are in the Pakatan government, Salleh said.
He added that since Rahmad had declared that it was impossible for Umno to help the Malays as BN continued to be rejected here, he should throw his support behind PAS.
Salleh said PAS has the capacity to replace Umno as the party to champion Malay interests in Penang.
He urged Rahmad not to confuse the community here anymore.
The congress should understand that the next election is a battle between BN and Pakatan, there is no room for middle-rung parties.
Penang PKR committee member Abdul Malik Abul Kassim who has faced the brunt of the congress’s criticism, said that Rahmad’s contention about DAP fielding Malay candidates does not make sense here.
It is about practicality when it comes to governing a multi-ethnic community as diverse as what Penang has, he said.
“Even if DAP fields Malay candidates to contest and they win, what guarantee can they give that they can perform any better than PAS or PKR representatives?” Abdul Malik said.
Umno’s back in Penang
He said Rahmad has lost the plot and it is difficult for PKR leaders here to stoop to his level about politics in Penang, as most of the allegations he has made does not resonate with the community here.
The issue about the Malay ground in Penang continues to attract attention although this is the home state of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the Permatang Pauh MP.
There are signs that Umno has rebounded and, has captured the hearts of the Malay segment here after a few alleged blunders by Pakatan,especially over religious policies and macro-economic management.
A former Penang Malay Chamber of Commerce research officer Yunus Alif said that the main grievance gripping the Malays here is the lost of their ancestry land and their inability to relocate to other properties here because of its exorbitant prices.
There is also a fear that Umno may abandon Penang if BN continues to be rejected here, Yunus claimed.
He said Pakatan has made many promises, but questions linger on whether it can deliver whereas Umno has a track-record of over 50-years in developing the country.