Hulu S’gor By-election: Defamation the Name of the Game

by Syed Zahar (Malaysian Digest)
With a lot at stake for both parties (Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat) and it’s components, especially the competing front-liners, MIC and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), smear tactics appears to be the weapon of choice for the two sides concerned. For one, both sides are accusing each other of alleged Israeli-links.
PKR’s ammunition would be the infamous issues by the likes of PKFZ, Teoh Beng Hock, the French submarine, stolen jet engines, and APCO. They also capitalized on Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s “Malay first, Malaysian second” pronouncement during Parliament session. BN, or more like Umno, meanwhile, has been playing up the went out of their way to digging up the dirt on Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, the two main ones being his past drinking habit and a racing horse he used to own.
Most of the effort on PKR’s part has been put into meeting the locals. Zaid has been playing the noble gentleman by admitting his past mistakes without retaliating by revealing a list of Umno members who has a liking for the drinks. He actually earns some respect for his sincerity though it may not sit well with the not so moderate-progressive Muslims. There were some bad news for the party though, as far as publicity is concerned, with is a string of resignations by PKR members, one being Datuk Dr Halili Rahmat who had decided to hop over to Umno at the early part of the campaign period.
As for the young P Kamalanathan, he’s bearing a lot of burden on his shoulders in his mission to secure at least 70 percent of the 12,000 plus Indian votes for MIC. Imagine being a 41-year old rookie of sort having to doomed to be picked as the one who would determine the fate of his predecessors, party president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu and the party, that is waning in popularity and credibility, itself. Being young and healthy (Kamalanathan claims to be a sportsman who watches his diet and drink or gamble neither) does have its advantageous seeing as Kamalanathan is reported to have been spending at least 20 hours a day in active campaigning.
The Indian voters appears to be the determining factor in this frenzied by-election. It’s crucial, to say the least, for MIC has to deliver the Hulu Selangor seat. For the party and it’s president, in particular, this could be the last bus ticket for them to regain popularity, and moreover, take the power back in this constituency. After G Palanavel’s loss to PKR’s late Dr Zainal Abidin in Hulu Selangor and Samy Vellu’s loss to Parti Sosialis Malaysia in They would definitely take a long time to recover if they lose this one.
Everyone knows that, even when MIC is a front-lined emissary for BN, the crusade for Hulu Selangor is more of a battle between Umno and PKR. Umno will easily has an advantage at these contests since they’re the ones with more money, power and control. Zaid, meanwhile, maintains that he doesn’t need a lot of cash for campaigning as his friends and volunteers has been there to help him since day one.
Tan Seri Muhyiddin has been put at task to campaign for BN since Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was visiting the US and later Japan in the earlier part of the campaign period. He came to the picture later on and so did the other heavyweights by the likes Datuk Nik Aziz, Dato’ Haji Abdul Hadi Awang, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, meanwhile, had a head start in doing what does best, which is in firing things up and condemning Umno and the rest of the BN components in his ceramah. Only this time, the turnouts were not as many as compared to the past by-elections. Even so, it was interesting to see the three sons of Ibrahims (Anwar, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim and Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim) coming out together to take on Hulu Selangor.