PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah must be a ‘Jantan’ and lead the charge in Permatang Pauh

Former Deputy Prime Minister and abuse of power convict Anwar Ibrahim is realizing his ten year old dream to come back into mainstream politics; something he longed for. Last week, his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, who is PKR President and Permatang Pauh MP announced resignation to make way for Anwar. It is news material which was in calculation of many political analysts. Only the timing is questionable.

It is apparent that Anwar is using this campaign as another ‘wayang’ material, especially if and when the Police arrest him on the sodomy charge, with all the international attention on him. This by-election is also regarded as a serious political distraction from other more pertinent issues that is overwhelming the country. Without a doubt, this by-election would just be a serious waste of public and party funds, for someone’s personal unsettled agenda.

Too many people speculate different directions. Syed Nazri, Chief Editor of NST ponders along the lines that Anwar might not make it this round.

Syed Nadzri: Five reasons Anwar could lose




Tuesday, 05 August 2008 08:49am

©New Straits Times (Used by permission)
by Syed Nadzri

EVEN his harshest critics are making no bones about the fact that he is the odds-on favourite in this by-election. But frankly, will Permatang Pauh be all that safe for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim?

True, the parliamentary constituency has been a home ground of sorts for him ever since, as a party rookie, he helped Umno wrest it from Pas control in the 1982 general election by defeating Zabidi Ali, a revered local ustaz.

And though he was not born and never went to school in Permatang Pauh (he is from Cherok Tok Kun which is somewhere between Kulim and Bukit Mertajam) Anwar’s assumed formidability — whether in spirit or even on the opposite side of the political fence — hardly ebbed as his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail took over the seat under Parti Keadilan Rakyat in the 1999, 2004 and 2008 elections.

But circumstances have changed somewhat — more significantly so after March 8.

The Election Commission meets tomorrow to decide on the date of the by-election. And there can be many reasons Permatang Pauh may not live up to be Fortress Anwar after all. Here are just five of them:

1. Barisan Nasional hardly ever loses in a by-election. The near-impeccable record is due largely to its clinical machinery derived from the years of experience of contesting all the by-elections there had ever been as a coalition force.

The record of the last four years speaks for itself: 6-0 in BN’s favour — in Kuala Berang, Terengganu (August 2004), Ba’kelalan, Sarawak (September 2004), Pengkalan Pasir, Kelantan (December 2005), Batu Talam, Pahang (January 2007), Machap, Malacca (April 2007) and Ijok, Selangor (April 2007).

Quite significantly, Ijok featured PKR strongman Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as candidate, with Anwar himself as chief campaigner.

On this score, the odds are against Pakatan Rakyat which is likely to find it more difficult to strike good teamwork.

The PKR-DAP-Pas coalition announced on Sunday what BN had already been doing all these years, that they had reached a pact to jointly take on BN in the by-election arising from Dr Wan Azizah giving up the seat.

Penang PKR elections director Mustaffa Kamal Yusof has been appointed to oversee the coordination efforts and for a start, the coalition has agreed to set up operation centres in all 28 polling districts in Permatang Pauh.

2. Anwar will go into this fight with a sodomy allegation hanging over him and this could be crucial to the outcome either way.

Most probably, he would rebut the allegation with guns blazing by saying it is all a conspiracy to do him in or that there is vote-rigging and then draw out all the sympathy with his supreme oratory skills that could turn around even the hardest of his detractors. But at the same time, it is exactly this issue that could prove to be his nemesis, especially with BN, it is learnt, already coming out with a series of counters.

3. Anwar’s opponent. It is understood that the BN, in anticipation of Anwar’s attack strategy, is strongly considering fielding either a respected religious figure or someone who knows Anwar inside out. Winning over the voters in Permatang Pasir and Penanti will be crucial for both sides.

4. The timing of this by-election seems to favour BN because the coalition, after a dismal outing in the March 8 general election where it lost five states, including Penang, is looking hard for redemption. Added to that is the upcoming Umno elections. Just about everyone in the party would want to use Permatang Pauh as a stage to impress and perhaps score points for the party polls in December. There is the right mood in BN.

5. Voter sentiment, perhaps the most significant. It cannot be denied that the ground has shifted much since March 8 with a change in state government and, with that, political leaning.

It cannot be denied too that some of the policy changes instituted by the DAP-led Penang administration have not gone down well with at least some of the 58,449 registered voters in Permatang Pauh, 69.4 per cent of whom are Malays, 24.5 per cent Chinese and 5.7 per cent Indians.

BN is expected to capitalise on this to the core, put Anwar on the defensive and try to prove that he is not that invincible in Permatang Pauh as thought.


Regardless what Syed Nazri’s thoughts were, since 1999, BN had never won in all three general elections in Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat.

What actually does this by-election means for UMNO and BN?

One academician thought that this by-election is actually a referendum for PM ‘Flop-Flop’ Dato’ Seri Abdulllah Ahmad Badawi. Even if DPM Dato’ Seri Mohd. Najib Tun Razak leads the BN charge, it cannot be about ‘Najib Vs Anwar’; something that so apparent since April 2007 Ijok by-election where Anwar as the Chief Campaigner for PKR and Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim lost. Despite, DPM Najib will automatically be put in charge of this herculean task.

On the other hand, UMNO has its intricate internal  politics issues, especially there will be a party elections looming around the corcer and so many aspirants are really using opportunity such as this to capitalise their ‘political mileage’ points. Whether these people really care UMNO / BN made this in this round is something yet to be demonstrated. Then again, the on going UMNO problem if and when another candidate such as PKR Heavyweight Turncoat Ezam Md. Noor has been pitted as the BN candidate against Anwar. In so many other instances, throwing spanners to the works happened so blatantly.

This by-election is actually about the two Malay political heavyweights from Penang. PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah is the Penang UMNO Liaisons Chief. Penang is also the homestate of the BN Chairman and UMNO President which he humiliatingly lost. This is the first time in 53 years history of UMNO/Perikatan/BN where the leader lost his own homestate.

If he is to have any credibility left what so ever, he must personally take centre stage in the battle of Permatang Pauh.

If he washes his hands and leaves it to DPM Najib, he might as well quit immediately and not wait till 2010. By washing his hands now, will erode any remote confidence left in him as the UMNO and BN leader.

This by-election is the perfect opportunity for BN Penang to redeem itself from the humiliating defeat last March when DAP, for the longest time since 1990  the Chinese chauvinist party has been ‘dreaming’ of wrestling the Island state from BN in its various ‘Tanjong’ campaigns.

If PM ‘Flip-Flop’ Abdullah has any shred of dignity left, especially after proudly telling Malaysians that he “won big” at the 12th General Elections (“just merely eight short of 2/3 majority”), then Permatang Pauh is the ground for his to demonstrate his mettle as an ‘Anak Jantan’.

Published in: on August 6, 2008 at 00:07  Comments (13)