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Buy or bye or by-elections?

June 12, 2016

With Umno pouring out the goodies and PAS preparing to bid farewell to politics, Amanah is the only party putting up an honourable fight for the June 18 polls.

COMMENT

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By P Ramasamy

It is clear that it’s only Amanah, backed by DAP and PKR, that will fight an honourable battle in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections this June 18.

The contest is essentially between Amanah and Umno. PAS’s function is merely to spoil the votes for Amanah or divert them to Umno.

Amanah candidates are clearly the underdogs in the fight, in which race and religion have been used by both PAS and Umno to the maximum. PAS, with its long history of opposition to Umno, has been reduced to being a mere appendage of the latter.

PAS is supporting Umno’s religious fanaticism and racism from outside. It has long pretended to be an Islamic party, but it has finally shown its true colours by virtually declaring that it is a Malay party. The lines of demarcation between the two Malay parties have become blurred, and it looks like this no longer matters to PAS.

Meanwhile, BN is giving out goodies to voters to influence the outcome of the by-elections. Millions of ringgit are being poured into the two constituencies. MCA, MIC and Gerakan leaders have been by-passed in the deliverance of the goodies. Prime Minister Najib Razak has personally appeared on the scene to deliver them.

Malaysians are known to have short memories. Materialism combined with propaganda will have the powerful effect of assisting the BN candidates. In short, the elections are not about what the candidates can or cannot do. They are about ensuring the longevity of the Najib administration, an administration that is caught in a quagmire of scandals and corruption.

The BN campaign for the two by-elections presents a perfect example of how race and religion are used to instil fear and anxiety amongst the voters and to conjure an image of the country being doomed without Umno in command.

The Amanah candidates are facing a huge struggle, but they should not be disappointed if they lose for they have to prepare for the big one, GE14. Amanah, as an equal partner in Pakatan Harapan, must see the bigger picture for the well-being of the country as a whole.

For Pakatan and Amanah, the contests are truly “by elections”. For PAS, they are “bye” elections. Whether it likes to or not, PAS must face up to the reality of its eventual demise from the political scene. It has committed too many deadly political mistakes, and it broke the camel’s back when it showed that it was dependent on Umno to realise its ambition to introduce hudud laws.

As for Umno, it has to some extent succeeded in buying the voters with material goods and promises. Chances are great that its candidates will win. Umno’s buying power is too great to fight against.

P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.

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