Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We want to 'Know Our Leaders'

Pakatan Rakyat candidate Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who lost in the recent Hulu Selangor Parliamentary by-election, does not seem willing to offer his other cheek to his enemies after being cheekily slapped by them.

During the election campaign, his political rivals exposed his drinking habit (in the past, he confessed) and his ownership of several racing horses (for the sport and not for gambling, he claimed).

Now that his dirty linen has been washed very publicly, he said he will start a “Know Your Leader” campaign to expose the immoral habits of Umno's top leaders.

“You cannot call  (someone) drunk and spare the other Umno leaders. I will expose the hypocrisy of Umno leaders,” he told Malaysian Insider.

“In this matter, one good thing is that they have exposed me, all my shortcomings. I feel it is not wrong if it is true. The issue is that it is twisted, calling me all sorts of names to influence voters. That is not right. But it’s alright, the election is over but there are more to come. I will appeal to the rakyat since they know me very well now with this expose I hope we also know about our leaders. Let’s get to know our ministers better,” said Zaid.

“Which casino they go to, which mistresses they keep. We know,” added the former Umno man. He also told Malaysian Insider that the campaign will openly name ministers and their spouses who are allegedly involved in immoral activities.

“What’s wrong with naming them if we have proof? If we have information?”

The problem is this - this kind of tit-for-tat strategy can backfire very badly. If you dig up some dirt and smear your enemies with it, your enemies will dig up even more dirt and throw the entire bucket of slime back at you.

Zaid must remember his party leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is still fighting a court battle against an allegation by a former PKR aide that he was sodomised by Anwar.

What of the other PKR leaders? Are they squeaky-clean? Are they "whiter than white"  (as one former Umno leader claimed he was)? Are their bedsheets, mattresses, underwear and carpets  unstained? Have they checked their hideaways for hidden pinhole cameras and bugs?

Then again, if we ponder for a moment we may come to the conclusion that Zaid's move will really clean up the political scene in Malaysia.

Let's say PKR digs up some dirt on some Barisan Nasional leaders and the BN strategists retaliate by digging up some slime about Pakatan leaders, then politicians from both sides of the divide will be "stripped naked" with their dirty linen unceremoniously pulled from them and washed thoroughly in public.

Frankly, the people will benefit because Malaysia will finally have squeaky-clean leaders.

Come to think of it, Zaid should go ahead with his "Know Your Leader" campaign. All Malaysians are waiting with bated breath to know which leader did what...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stop horsing around

Pakatan Rakyat should stop horsing around.

They should get real serious about winning Hulu Selangor - or any other seat - and not depend on the people's anger and frustration against the ruling Barisan coalition to get their votes.

Being seasoned politicians, Pakatan leaders like Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim should have known about the weaknesses of his candidate Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

Now that the Umno guys have dug up dirt like his drinking habit (in the past) and his current ownership of race horses, the Pakatan guys are on the defensive and doing damage control reportedly with little success.

They should have known that such un-Muslim habits would not go down well with the largely rural conservative Malay constituents in Hulu Selangor.

And the Pakatan guys cannot cry foul about dirty tactics employed by Umno by embarking on a smear campaign as Pakatan, especially PKR, have always used the case of the blown-up Mongolian beauty Altantunya to smear the Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. As they say, all's fair in love and war, and politics.

The Pakatan guys can always resort to saying that the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman also owned race horses, but as a political analyst pointed out to me, the circumstances in his era were different as the Islamic revival amongst Malaysian Muslims had yet to take place. Islam had yet to be practised with great fervour then and the fact that Tunku was of royal blood and his affable character somewhat blunted any criticism of him.

Times have changed...and Pakatan are now fighting a Barisan that has - other than a couple of member parties - been rejuvenated by the improving economy, less infighting and the relatively strong leadership of Najib.

Fielding a Muslim candidate with flaws and skeletons in the closet in a conservative constituency that has been a Barisan stronghold for many elections is possibly suicidal.

On top of that, Zaid Ibrahim is not a nobody in politics or Pakatan - he is a bigwig and if he loses, Pakatan will have to lick very deep and painful wounds.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Hulu Selangor: Barisan to win?

The Hulu Selangor by-election represents a chance for Barisan Nasional to prove that its initiatives introduced during the reign of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak have worked.

It also represents a chance for MIC to show that it too is on its own trajectory of revival.
If Barisan loses the seat, then all has been in vain.

And Barisan will have to go back to the drawing board to map out new strategies to win back the doubting masses. As for MIC, well, it will be another nail in the coffin of the party.

As a matter of fact, the MIC almost ensured that the coffin lid was nailed shut when its party leader(s) quarrelled with the Umno top brass over the choice of candidate.

It is understood that the MIC leader(s) favoured G. Palanivel, the deputy president, who by the way had been the Hulu Selangor MP for many (perhaps too many) terms.

It is also understood that intelligence reports stated that Palanivel would lose should he be fielded. Word on the ground was that the voters, especially the Malays, preferred some other candidate who could be more visible and responsive to their woes.

Hence the so-called 'compromise' choice of P Kamalanathan, the party's information chief, as the candidate.

Though he is the 'compromise' choice, he could turn out to be Barisan's trump card as it is said his PR skills are good which will ensure good handling of the media and also delivering of service to the people. His command of Bahasa Malaysia is also reported to be strong, which should go down well with the majority Malay voters who could ultimately decide which way the seat goes.

Over at the Pakatan Rakyat camp, its candidate Datuk Zaid Ibrahim is the victim of a smear campaign with his rival digging up dirt like the fact that he used to enjoy a drink or two (of booze) but this could backfire if the Malay voters accept his admission of guilt and believe that he has repented.
If he does not talk down to the voters in Hulu Selangor, it could mean winning more votes.

However, the reality is that Hulu Selangor has been a Barisan stronghold and if one were to interpret the results of the March 8 2008 elections as an aberration, then it should still be a Barisan stronghold, at least in theory. Bear in mind that in the 2008 general election, Pakatan's (the late) Dr Zainal Abidin polled 23,177 votes, defeating BN's Datuk G. Palanivel with a slim 198-vote majority.

It suggests that even in a general election which saw a 'tsunami' swing to the Opposition resulting in the worst-ever performance by Barisan, Pakatan won Hulu Selangor by a very slim margin.

And the three state seats within the Hulu Selangor Parliamentary constituency were won quite convincingly by Barisan.

Looks like it would need more than ceramahs by the charismatic Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for Pakatan to retain the seat. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

First problem to solve

Just days after his convincing victory, the new president of the Chinese party already has a problem to fix.
Actually, the problem was not caused by him but by the Wanita chief of his party. During the height of the battle against the former president, the Wanita chief had declared that she would resign if the former deputy won the presidency. Depending on how you look at it, that was either a highly-principled or fabulously foolish stance.
Now that the former deputy has won, the Wanita chief has two options - swallow her pride, stay as Wanita chief and ignore her detractors or show everyone that she is a woman of principle and leave. We will know soon enough what her decision will be.
Observers say she will send in her letter and leave with some grace despite the fact that the new president has paved the way for her to stay by saying something to the effect that the past is the past and the party should move ahead.
The observers say she has to leave as she has too many enemies within Wanita simply because many of the wing's leaders had supported (and perhaps still support) the former president.
They feel that the Wanita chief had betrayed the former president and had stabbed him in his back.
The former president had made her a Senator which enabled her to become a Deputy Minister. But during the party infighting, she had sided with a vice-president (who is now deputy) to force the former president out.
Such lack of loyalty and gratitude has not gone down well with fans of the former president who still hold influential posts in the Wanita wing.
If she does not go, her enemies in the wing may just organise their own putsch.
Now that would be a really big problem for the new president to solve...