A Show of Unity From Pakatan In KT

7 January 2009

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From The Malaysian Insider
By Debra Chong

KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 7 — Pas candidate Abdul Wahid Endut may be a big man in the local political scene, but the Pakatan Rakyat front is not taking chances.

Amid a series of inter-party spats that are starting to grow into a national nightmare, the leaders sent out a signal that their union, formed less than a year ago, is far from breaking up.

Last night, the heavyweights from all three parties turned up at a mammoth beach rally in Pantai Tanjung, near the town centre here.

The PR show of force was meant to rival the Barisan Nasional contingent led by no less than the deputy prime minister himself, Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Pas’s top two leaders, spiritual advisor Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and party president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, both turned up, and filled a football field’s worth of fans.

Lim Kit Siang, advisor to the secular DAP, also showed up despite the party’s anti-hudud stand which has sparked off countless public debates on the feudal Islamic criminal code.

And there was opposition leader and PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who rushed back from Turkey the same day to lend his support to the Islamist party’s campaign.

They wasted no time in attacking the BN and its senior component party Umno.

Lim and state Pas chief Datuk Mustafa Ali led the first charge, accusing the Umno-led BN of wasting taxpayers’ money on state projects that carry no benefit to the public.

Both listed the Monsoon Cup and the Crystal Mosque among several controversial exorbitant projects which failed to reduce the state’s high number of poor and the rising unemployment rate, especially among the young.

Hadi continued the assault. He pointed out the disparity of the state’s economic status. Despite being the second richest state in Malaysia after Selangor due to revenue from oil royalties, it is also the state with the second highest number of poor people, after Perlis.

And Anwar hammered the BN coalition when he likened Umno to Israel, amid the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip, to a mainly Muslim audience.

The Kuala Terengganu by-election may not directly change power at the federal level. But it is a significant gauge of how much change has been effected on the ground since the 12th general election less than a year ago.

For the PR coalition knows, as well as the BN, that Terengganu voters will play a pivotal role when it comes to the next general election, which may come sooner rather than later.

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