Monday, August 25, 2008


Anwar suffers a blow
PKR leaders walk out en masse


Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) Permatang Pauh by-election campaign suffered a blow as its leaders walked out en masse yesterday. Five Division Heads and 10 Youth leaders from the northern States quit the Party, citing their dissatisfaction with the leadership of PKR Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as their reason for quitting the Party. Former Kedah PKR Secretary Zamil Ibrahim, who spoke on their behalf, said the Party had deviated from its original struggle since Anwar was freed from prison. “Anwar has made PKR become like a business entity where he is the Chief Executive Officer and runs it as he likes,” he told reporters when announcing his quitting the Party at a hotel here. He added that the other leaders who joined him in quitting PKR had remained in their hotel rooms because certain people had threatened to harm them. They were among some 200 PKR members who chose to quit the Party because they no longer had any faith in it, Zamil said, adding that Anwar’s unwillingness to swear the Islamic way that he did not sodomise a former male aide of his also contributed to their decision to leave PKR. Former PKR Youth Head Ezam Mohd Nor, who was also present, said their leaving was a good sign that the Barisan Nasional (BN) would win the Permatang Pauh by-election on Tuesday. Meanwhile, PKR is worried of a low voter turnout on Tuesday. Its Information Chief, Tian Chua, said Anwar had hoped for a landslide victory but worried that turnout could be low — partly because the Government has made the highly unusual decision to hold the vote on a weekday. “This election is going to be decisive. Definitely, if Anwar wins, we will be one step closer to taking over the Government,” he said. “From our assessment, we are leading. We have to win big. It will mean the people reject racial politics.” And the Penang State Government, which is controlled by the opposition alliance, fired another salvo yesterday by declaring election daya public holiday in order to ensure a full turnout. Anwar has been mounting an intense campaign, visiting markets and local communities during the day, and drawing large crowds at nightly rallies. His opponent from Umno, Arif Shah Omar Shah, has been more low key and newspaper reports have said the ruling party has been riven by factional splits. Some Umno officials have warned their party could be harmed by the focus on the sodomy allegations — which polls show the majority of Malaysians do not believe — and the attempt to portray Anwar as a traitor to Muslim Malays. “It is un-Malay to make these allegations. Anwar has a family and he has five daughters,” one party official in Penang told APP. “Politics is one thing but you are shaming a family man. I am afraid that if we go overboard in attacking him and accusing him of being anti- Malay, it will backfire. We will lose votes. We saw that happen in the March polls.” The general elections saw the Umno-led coalition lose five States and a third of Parliamentary seats to the three-member Opposition alliance, in an unprecedented loss that has shaken the Government. Most voters interviewed in Permatang Pauh in recent days said they favoured the Opposition and were unimpressed by the Government’s focus on the sodomy accusation which Anwar says has been concocted to sideline him. “These Umno leaders are doing nothing but splitting the people further,” said Mohamad Mansur Ismail, 56, a roadside stallholder. “They have taken this campaign to an all-time low by harping on the sodomy allegations. “-Bernama/ AFP

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