Indians, Chinese ignore video war against Anwar IbrahimAugust 20th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS
Kuala Lumpur, Aug 20 (IANS) A night-long video war featuring the aide who has charged opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim with sodomising him is raging in the tiny Permatang Pauh constituency in Penang, where an electorate of less than 60,000 is swinging between the “propah” and the profane. The video shows a handsome Mohammed Saiful Bukhari Azlan repeating the charge and swearing by the Holy Qoran, media reports on the key by-election to the Malaysian Parliament say.
The polling is due Aug 26. Ibrahim hopes to win and return to parliament 10 years after a similar charge ousted him from the post of the deputy prime minister and finance minister.
“By now, most people in the vicinity would probably have memorised the actual words recited by Saiful, including the highly-explicit phrase…. Some found the explicit part in bad taste, others thought it was plain vulgar. A few thought the 23-year-old boy was trying to further sensationalise the issue,” The Star newspaper said.
“Still, Saiful looked earnest and even more handsome on the big screen. The camera, as they say, loves him,” the newspaper added.
But ethnic Indians and Chinese, who form 30 percent of the electorate, numbering less than 19,000, appear to have made up their minds and have ignored the video war, says the reporter covering the campaign in a news analysis.
“The common refrain in this by-election is that the voters have made up their minds. This is very likely the case for the Chinese and Indians.
“The Chinese sentiment at this point in time is that they want choices and alternatives. The days when they felt beholden to only one party or a coalition have passed and they have really bought into the idea of a two-party democracy.”
Permatang Pauh to an extent reflects the national ethnic balance in that Muslim Malays account for 69.4 percent of the population, the Chinese for 24.5 percent and Indians, although eight percent at the national level, for six percent.
The Malay vote is harder to read. Both sides have their core support, but there are still fence sitters waiting to be persuaded, says the newspaper.
Thousands of workers belonging to both the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional and Ibrahim’s Parti Keadalan Rakyat (PKR), besides his allies, have thronged this one-street town, as large numbers of police personnel keep a strict watch.
The place is hit by humidity and 31 degrees Celsius sun - when it is not experiencing torrential rain. Neither has affected the campaign, which began with a spot of violence.
Barisan has fielded a local legislator, Shah Omar, but it is an uphill task for him, considering that Ibrahim has won the seat since 1982.
After Ibrahim was barred from contesting, his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail scraped through with 590 votes in 2004, but scored a thumping 13,338 vote triumph this March.
The couple, which heads the opposition alliance, has emerged politically strong from that election with 82 members in Parliament and control of five of the 13 states.
Wan Ismail was the leader of the opposition till she resigned last month to facilitate the by-election.