Commentary Politics

BN has decided, opposition seems uncertain

BN named its candidates days ago while the opposition hasn't done so for Sungai Besar.

Written by Aziz Hassan

“Mid-week Notes” – A weekly column

Will we see two opposition candidates in Sungai Besar?

June 1, 2016 — WHILE Barisan Nasional has acted decisively to announce last weekend its candidates for the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections, the signals coming from the opposition remain unclear despite PAS announcing its choice for the latter.

The two BN candidates are familiar faces in the constituencies, Budiman Mohd. Zohdi being a sitting Sungai Panjang assemblyman and Datin Mastura Mohd. Yazid the widow of Wan Mohammad Khair-il, the parliamentarian killed in the helicopter crash in Sarawak on May 5.

Sungai Panjang is one of the two state seats in the Sungai Besar parliamentary constituency. Both seats were won by BN in the 2013 general election, though not by much in Sungai Besar.

Soon after Budiman was named as candidate, the knives were out – and the information from a friend was about the sarcasms expressed not by opposition supporters but rather by those in Umno and with links to the government.

The comment was about the so-called dearth of candidates, so much so that BN has to ask an assemblyman to double up as a parliamentarian.

Is this something unprecedented in Malaysian politics?

The more intelligent amongst us would surely pooh-pooh this view, given that the opposition has been practicing this for years.

Former Selangor mentri besar and PKR man Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim first contested the Ijok state seat and also the Bandar Tun Razak parliamentary seat and then Port Klang instead of Ijok in the next election while retaining Bandar Tun Razak.

PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has spread her wings further still, a parliamentarian for Permatang Pauh and state representative for Kajang. One wonders how effective she is in serving constituencies so far apart geographically.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has been contesting all over the place and his son Guan Eng is also the representative for two constituencies.

For Sungai Besar, we are still waiting for the opposition to name its choice.

PAS earlier insisted that it would contest there again while Parti Amanah Negara appears to have been cleared the way by another opposition bloc to contest.

But back to the detractors within Umno.

There is no doubt that the party has had to deal with rumblings and mumblings in its ranks since Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked from the party and government in 1998 but by and large Umno has managed to ride the storm.

However not all of those who believed in Anwar left Umno to join the then Keadilan. This is where the problem is.

Umno needs to ask itself if it needs members who keep on sniping at the party at various platforms. It’s highly unlikely that Umno grassroots leaders are unaware that the party has enemies from within.

Why these doubters choose to remain in the party while not having any loyalty whatsoever is something only they can answer.

Maybe it’s simply a need to be seen as relevant, especially if you are on the board of a government-owned company. Or maybe it’s the money that comes with it but if you have made your millions,  RM150,000 or RM200,000 a year must be peanuts.

Anyone with credibility and pride would have left the party years ago because Umno would be better off without members who think the opposition is a better proposition.





About the author

Aziz Hassan

A journalist since July 1976 with both the English and Malaya press and was with two newspaper groups before The Mole. Does corporate report-writing and translation in his free time. Currently also a contributing weekly rugby columnist for the New Straits Times.