Well, they did say ‘a day in politics is a long time’. The earlier belief that the non-Malay votes would be the crucial factor in the Permatang Pauh by-election seems to have given way to what one would have expected in the first place, the Malay votes …
… more so when nearly 70% of the voters are Malays.
Perhaps the earlier expectation had been due to the near ‘deadlock’ between PKR and UMNO … which could have changed since the campaign started.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post Permatang Pauh - MCA & Gerakan invisible?, based on Malaysiakini news item on Friday By-election: CM may declare holiday …
… Lim GE has hinted that he may yet declare a public holiday for this coming Tuesday … where he stated:
"Currently, the state government is not planning to declare Tuesday as a public holiday unless we have to.”
"But we are not closing the door on this subject either, in case Barisan Nasional comes up with sudden tactics to stop voters from coming out to vote.”
Whatever the unknown 'tactics' may be, the aim is obviously to ensure Pakatan supporters will have the opportunity to vote.
As I posted yesterday: Declaring Tuesday 26th August as a one-off public holiday for the by-election was raised initially by Lim GE sometime ago, but was then subsequently dismissed by him when he said he and Anwar agreed that would not be advisable.
Does this re-evocation of the public holiday proposal signal a worrying concern in the Pakatan’s camp, that every Pakatan resource must be summoned upon to ensure that Anwar wins in Permatang Pauh?
Unfortunately there are two worrying factors for Anwar’s camp. The first is, perhaps of a smaller significance, the UMNO ‘ketuanan Melayu’ scare campaign re Anwar’s promise to rid the nation of the NEP policy.
Since the Pakatan grabbed 4 States from UMNO, in addition to holding Kelantan, some Malays have bought the UMNO propaganda that ‘Malays are no longer even equals in their own homeland’.
If one were to read Anwar’s policy on his replacement of the NEP, the Malays will still be ‘looked after’, thus there shouldn’t be any need for them to worry about.
Nonetheless the UMNO seeding of fear has found fertile soil - yes, soil that has been ‘tilled’ and prepared for such sowing in the last 40 years since 1969. The message to the heartland is that ‘it’s not just the crops to be harvested but the farmer who may be expected to deliver such a crop’.
The second issue and a far greater one, especially and precisely because the heartland is still a religious conservative society (not unlike the American Bible belt) where the good folks believe 101% in Allah (swt) and all teachings and practices Islamic, full stop!
So the worrying factor for Anwar Ibrahim's campaign is the Saiful factor, and not just him but rather, his oath taking in a mosque. Despite their seemingly nonchalant dismissal of Saiful and his oath, PKR has been having sleepless nights over it because of a lack of equivalent (religious) substantial rebuttal.
On Friday I blogged on The influence of the 'Oath' in Permatang Pauh.
Though I had presented what I thought was a fairly neutral opinion, I was (as usual) vilified as a BN writer and even accused of being KJ –wakakaka – but it did suggest that anwaristas have been very concerned and touchy on the issue of Saiful’s oath taking, and felt sufficiently vulnerable to attack me for ‘leading readers’ in my anti-Anwar direction.
Joceline Tan, the Star columnist on the Malay side of politics (and whom PKR supporters love to hate) wrote in her analysis on the Permatang Pauh by-election A fight to win over Malay fence-sitters:
The PKR side insists that Malay voters tak makan or have not swallowed the implications of Saiful’s testimony.
But PAS central committee member Dr Mujahid Yusof said: “We’re still not sure of the impact. Morality is a serious thing to the Malays and Saiful did swear on the Quran and he did it in a mosque.”
PAS is planning to capture the fence-sitters this weekend by bringing in its three ulama superstars, party president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, Mursyidul Am Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and famous spiritual healer Datuk Dr Haron Din.
They are depending on their ulama leaders to provide the Islamic arguments to this thorny issue.
But some like Alwi [UMNO politician Datuk Alwi Che Ahmad] are quite daring. He has told some audiences: “Anwar says the courts are not going to be fair, the police and AG are biased, the DNA will be manipulated. In other words, no one is to be trusted. We can understand it if he doesn’t believe in people but he says he is also not swearing on the Quran. So, who is he afraid of?”
Obviously the UMNO campaign of using Saiful’s oath taking (that he was sodomized by Anwar) is biting, and hurting Anwar Ibrahim considerably. But UMNO being UMNO, they have somewhat degraded the campaign effect with crude, grubby and obscene pantomiming and gestures ….. well, at least to my impression ... but who knows what effect those would have on the more conservative Malay voters in Permatang Pauh?
The PKR strategy to neutralize this damaging-to-Anwar campaign appears to be trucking in the PAS ulamas (after Gus Dur) to buttress the defence of his reputation, people like Pak Haji Hadi Awang.
Malaysiakini also reported that (a not-so-well) Pak Haji Nik Aziz will be present to night (Sunday 24 August).
And of course Lim GE is supporting the de facto leader’s prospects by the possibility of a Penang State public holiday on Tuesday, to maximize the attendance of Pakatan supporters at the polling booths.
Will it be too late for Anwar Ibrahim to take the oath to disavow the sodomy allegations, assuming for an instance that he even wants to?
Today is already Sunday thus (personally) I think so (that is, it’s too late), because such a religio-political momentous event requires time for it to be made known to the ordinary public in Permatang Pauh.
Not every middle age conservative voter in the heartland reads SMs or the Internet. Even if they do, they require time to mull over the issue before making up or changing their minds about the credibility or appropriateness of Saiful's oath.
... but I reckon Anwar Ibrahim will still win - it's his winning majority that may be affected.