In the Malay Media
22 Dec 08 : 8.00AM Translation by Cindy Tham
WITH the 17 Jan 2009 Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election about two
months before the March 2009 Umno polls, the Malay dailies have picked up on
the efforts by some Umno leaders to boost their chances in the party polls.
Besides this, the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English, and the
discovery of the carcass of a wild boar’s head in a largely Muslim community
were among the headlines in the Malay press from 15 to 19 Dec 2008.
Hobnobbing in KT
On 19 Dec, Utusan Malaysia ran a news analysis on the concern that some Umno
leaders may be focusing on the wrong thing in the Kuala Terengganu
by-election. The article, The culture of trying to be seen with top leaders
needs to stop, said whenever there were by-elections, Barisan Nasional (BN)
leaders – namely Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his
deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak – would be surrounded by various Umno folk.
It said most of them merely wanted to be seen publicly with the top two
leaders when they visited the grassroots during the election campaign.
The article observed that it would be fine if it was merely to greet the two
leaders at the airport and stick around to listen to a briefing on their
itinerary. However, the hangers-on showed up in droves, tailing the leaders
wherever they went, from one operation or polling centre to another.
This would have a negative effect on the campaign, the article observed, as
party members should instead be spreading out to attend to “black” and
“grey” areas (where the BN is not popular among voters).
“It’s alright if they are following the two leaders in a small group, but
there’s something wrong when there’s a long convoy,” a Terengganu Umno
division head was quoted as saying.
He did not name any culprit but anticipated that there would be such Umno
leaders doing exactly this in Kuala Terengganu because it was just before
the party polls.
“I was campaigning in [the] Permatang Pauh [by-election in August 2008] and
did not see such a culture among the opposition parties. Even when a chief
minister or a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader was visiting the area, the
party workers there were focused on their tasks, distributing flyers,
putting up posters on trees and lamp posts,” he said.
The division head said the 11 days of campaigning for the Kuala Terengganu
by-election was not the time for these Umno leaders to promote themselves,
curry favour with the top two or steal the limelight. He pointed out that
the priority should be to ensure the BN candidate wins.
Lessons from Permatang Pauh
An earlier feature by Utusan Malaysia on 17 Dec said as Umno faces the Kuala
Terengganu by-election, it should not repeat some of the mistakes of
The feature, titled Lessons from Permatang Pauh, said Umno should ensure
there was no jealousy and spite among party members, so that the candidate
who is selected to contest can win.
It noted that in Permatang Pauh, everyone could see there was a strain in
the relationship between the leadership of that Umno division and BN
candidate Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah.
Arif Shah and his family were often seen campaigning on their own and did
not get much support from the division. As a result, the article said, the
BN not only had to face the opposition in the by-election but also struggled
with internal problems.
Arif Shah lost by 15,671 votes to PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in
The article said Umno’s election machinery must ensure that the internal
conflict that plagued the Permatang Pauh by-election was not repeated in
Kuala Terengganu. It cautioned that another opposition victory would give
the Pakatan Rakyat more ammunition to claim that the electorate rejected the
In the Chinese Media
Gearing up for KT
22 Dec 08 : 8.00AM Translation by Leong Lai Ming
FROM 13 to 19 Dec 2008, the Chinese press highlighted the issue of the Kuala
Terengganu by-election; reactions towards the restructuring of Warta
Mandarin; and the continuing New Era College dispute.
Morality in Kuala Terengganu
Oriental Daily’s 14 Dec interview with PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat
Isa by Xie Zhong Yang provided a glimpse of PAS’s by-election strategy. In
the interview, Aiming at MCA internal conflict, PAS to gain Chinese votes,
Nasharudin did not rule out the possibility of using Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi
Lek’s sex scandal to gain Chinese votes in Kuala Terengganu.
The October MCA party election saw the unexpected combination of Datuk Seri
Ong Tee Keat winning the presidency and Chua winning the vice-presidency.
Both were making contradicting remarks even before the election and more
recently in regard to Chua’s comments on ketuanan Melayu.
Nasharudin said, “All these events make us (PAS) believe that Chinese
Malaysians are tired and have lost confidence towards this Chinese-based
party claiming a membership of millions. MCA is now caught in a leadership
He said MCA is bound to face many problems after electing Chua as its deputy
president. This is because not only PAS, but the entire nation is unable to
accept a morally-tainted leader.
In other words, PAS will be staking the moral high ground to try to sway
Chinese voters with universal values.
Regarding PAS Selangor’s suggestion to ban alcohol sales, Nasharudin said
the issue may be used as a strategy by the Barisan Nasional (BN) and MCA in
the by-election. However, he felt that its impact on Kuala Terengganu
Chinese is minimal. Nasharudin said, “PAS has always respected Chinese
Malaysian customs and allowed Chinese Malaysian culture to flourish.”
During the 8 March election, the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat saw a
three-cornered fight between the BN, PAS, and independent candidate Maimun
Yusuf. Umno’s late Datuk Razali Ismail won the seat with a 628-vote
Many note that, taking into account the 931 spoilt votes and 685 votes for
Maimun, PAS could have won the seat on 8 March.
Nasharudin admitted that the three-cornered fight led to PAS’s defeat, but
stressed that the party would not prevent Maimun from re-contesting because
Malaysia is a democracy.
Nevertheless, Nasharudin was tight-lipped about the core votes for PAS and
Umno. It is reported that Umno and PAS each have control of between 20% and
one-third of the vote. Therefore it is crucial for each party to gain votes
of the undecided, including Chinese Malaysians, to win the seat.
Pas yet to finalise its KT candidate
KUALA TERENGGANU, Dec 22 – Pas has yet to finalise its candidate for the
Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election although its president Datuk Seri
Abdul Hadi Awang claims the name is “in my pocket” party sources said today.
“They have narrowed down the names but the president has yet to decide,” a
source told The Malaysian Insider here.
Hadi had said the candidate, whom he said is a professional and
people-oriented, was more than qualified to face Barisan Nasional’s Senator
Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, who is also deputy home minister. Wan
Ahmad Farid said he will quit both appointments a day before nomination day
on Jan 6.
Polling day is January 17 for the parliamentary constituency which has
80,229 voters. BN’s Datuk Razali Ismail narrowly won the seat with a 628
vote majority in the March 8 elections, beating PAS’ Mohamed Sabu and
grandmonther Maimum Yusof. Razali, who was deputy education minister, died
late last month.
Speculation is rife that PAS will name Batu Buruk assemblyman Dr Syed Azman
Syed Ahmad Nawawi as its candidate as he was the Kuala Terengganu MP between
1999 and 2004.
Hadi, who had said he will make the announcement on Jan 1, is confident the
party candidate will triumph on polling day.
The by-election is crucial to both Barisan Nasional and PAS with the ruling
coalition out to prove it has regained support and strength after the dismal
outing in the general elections where it lost its traditional two-thirds
parliamentary majority and four more states to the opposition which has
formed the Pakatan Rakyat electoral pact.
Barisan Nasional also lost the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election to
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who took back his political stronghold from his
wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the president of Parti Keadilan
Pas has to prove to PKR that it is more than a junior member in the
three-party electoral pact. The other party in the pact is the Democratic
Action Party (DAP).
The DAP has now asked Pas to clarify its vice-president Datuk Husam Musa’s
declaration that it will implement the Islamic criminal laws known as hudud
when the pact captures Putrajaya.
Both parties fell out over the same issue after the 1999 general elections
where the opposition gained more seats due to Anwar’s sacking as deputy
prime minister and finance minister by then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir
PAS candidate: Mat Sabu out
Hafiz Yatim | Dec 22, 08 5:42pm [extract]
According to party’s mouthpiece Harakahdaily, the doors seemed to be “almost
closed” on Mohamad – a party leader from Penang who was PAS candidate for
Kuala Terengganu in the March general elections – following claims he as an
“outsider” would not be generally accepted by the voters.
This is despite that the veteran politician is best known for his witty
oratory skills and has the blessings from influential party leader, Nik
Generally, the PAS candidate for Kuala Terengganu had always been a local
and this trend is expected to continue despite Mohamad’s choice in the March
8 general elections.
After Husam’s hudud remarks, a small opening for BN in KT vote
By Debra Chong
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 – By declaring that his party would introduce the hudud
if it wins federal power, Pas vice president Datuk Husam Musa may have
unwittingly placed the Islamic state issue on the Kuala Terengganu
Today, the DAP, the Chinese-dominated secular partner of Pas in the Pakatan
Rakyat alliance, quickly disassociated itself from the remarks, which will
certainly cause concern among many non-Muslims because such strict Islamic
law would introduce whipping, stoning and amputation as punishment for
“Hukum hudud is not Pakatan Rakyat policy and it is for Husam to clarify
what he actually said,” veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang wrote in his blog
“DAP’s stand on the secular character of Malaysian nation and state as
agreed in the social contract by our forefathers when Merdeka was achieved
51 years ago remains consistent and unchanged,” he added.
Husam’s hudud remark will give the MCA, a party which had been abandoned by
Chinese voters in the March elections, an opening to regain some support
from the opposition and possibly win over the small but significant number
of Chinese voters in the crucial Kuala Terengganu vote.
MCA Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun told The Malaysian Insider that
her party was against hudud, saying that the entire non-Muslim community
would “definitely go against it”.
She noted that Husam had effectively shot PR’s chances in the by-election
with his statement and that nothing the DAP said now could lessen the
“The most important thing is what exactly is the policy when they run the
government,” Chew said, drawing attention to Pas’s act in passing hudud law
in Terengganu when it ruled the east coast state previously.
“I think people will look for that,” she said.
Husam was challenged by Umno Youth chief hopeful Khairy Jamaluddin to
disclose Pas’s stand in a public debate on “Malaysian Political Reformation”
in Kota Baru last Saturday.
Asked how she felt about Khairy’s promise to also push for hudud, Chew
dismissed the possibility of Umno, MCA’s senior partner in the Barisan
Nasional coalition, deciding to introduce the strict Islamic code.
“At the moment, Khairy is not one to decide the direction and policy of the
government,” Chew said.
The other Umno Youth chief hopeful, Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, was
equally dismissive of Husam and Khairy.
“That is only their political rhetoric, trying to be a champion for the
Malays without thinking of the nation’s multiracial structure,” the former
Selangor Menteri Besar told The Malaysian Insider.
“Hudud is only a small claim in Islam. Not implementing hudud does not mean
we fail to become good Muslims,” said Khir.
“For me, it is more important that the effort to become a good Muslim should
be done by Umno Youth, by having youths who are responsible, ready to face
challenges, willing to uphold justice and who are free from all the bad
points of life,” he added.
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Some issues PAS intends to pick on
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