On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Hollow ring to claim of united opposition

The party, encouraged by what it  perceives to be growing sentiments  against the Government, is no longer talking
about denying Barisan  Nasional its
two-thirds majority  but about forming
the next federal  government.

The white moon, green flags are  now seen
flying in even urban areas, not just in padi fields.

Confident of securing the Muslim votes, PAS is now trying  to win 
the non-Muslims votes.

It has even introduced a column  in
Harakah, its weekly party publication, on how to conduct discussions with

PAS believes that among the  Muslims the
line between its brand  of politics and
reformasi has become blur.

At the height of the reformasi euphoria, its leaders carefully talked  about justice and human rights.

As their confidence grew, the  leaders
have gone back to their  original mould,
preferring to talk  about their policies
and what they  want to do if they form
the next  federal government.

Those who backed PAS in past  elections
are likely to remain committed to the party.

It now hopes to garner the votes  of
supporters of  the reformasi  movement, even if some do not  subscribe to their brand of politics.

It is the same with the DAP and  PRM. In
the name of fighting a  common cause
against injustice  and for democracy,
human rights  and a civil society, these
opposition  parties are prepared to put
aside  their differences and adopt  a common platform with PAS.

A coalition of opposition parties  will
ensure a straight fight with the  Barisan
in the next general election  and  can even project itself as a viable

But it may not be that simple. It  will
be difficult for DAP, for example, to openly tell its members and  voters to support PAS.

Unorthodox pronouncements by  PAS'
spiritual adviser Datuk Nik  Aziz Nik Mat
on the position of  women, such as
discouraging them  from working and
barring women  members as candidates,
have  raised eye-brows.

Wanita DAP chief Dr Oon Hong  Geok has
gone on record to state  the party's
objection to Nik Aziz's  proposal to stop
mothers from  working.

Strangely, some non-governmental organisations and political parties which have
been the quickest  in criticising the
Government have  remained silent on the

It is clear that these critics have 
compromised their position. They 
would be the first to cry foul if it 
was a government decision but because the proposal came from PAS,  they chose to close their eyes.

It is such double standards on  justice
and human rights that have  made these
critics questionable.

Many of them have lost their  moral
standing on many issues.  They appear to
be selective in their  concerns.

Similarly, when the reformasi  movement
talks of cronyism, it  sounds hollow
simply because  many of the leaders
themselves appear to have benefited from the 
system they now condemn.

Many have become super-rich,  not because
of their business acumen, but because of their political  affiliations.

The local media, they argued,  have
blacked out the opposition. At  the same
time, they refused to acknowledge that their publications  are publicly partisan, refusing to  even give a line to the Establishment.

The foreign media is professional and objective, by the standards  of the NGOs, because they are critical of the

The local media certainly does  have its
flaws and short-comings,  we must
admit.   But local newsmen  remain the best informed journalists, even if
their assessment of the  recent Sabah
elections that the  Barisan would win was
ignored by  many people, including academicians.

That is simply because many   whether in
opposition or Government  chose to
believe in their  own propaganda.

They believe that the silent majority are as passionate about issues as them
but not every Malaysian is pro-Mahathir or pro-Anwar.

Many Malaysians are really  turned off by
the reformasi slogans  and

Similarly, they dislike the arrogance of some government leaders,  who assume they know best.

Huge turn-outs at gatherings  must not be
taken as indication of  support by any

The majority of Malaysian voters  are
taking the middle path. Their  main
concerns are paying the bills,  the
housing loans and looking after  the
welfare of their children. They  spend
time with the family during 

These are the moderates who understand the need for political and  economic stability.

Allies of Anwar have entertained  the
idea of setting up a multi-racial 

In the Malaysian-context, a  multi-racial
party is still dominated by one race.

For example, the Malays dominate PRM, the Chinese the DAP  and Gerakan and the Indians the  PPP.

Assuming that the new Anwar linked party decides to be Malay based like Umno,
it will be competing for the same audience with 
PAS. Inadvertently, both parties 
will become competitors.

But there will be more obstacles  along
the way. How will a more  moderate Malay
or multi-racial  party, led by Anwar and
DAP, tell  their voters to back PAS to
ensure  a direct contest between the
opposition and Barisan.

A vote for PAS will mean an endorsement for PAS' policies. It  means a yes for its fundamentalist  objectives, which moderate Malaysians in our
multi-racial and multi religious society cannot possibly  accept.

The DAP has rejected PAS' objective of setting up an Islamic  state but by working with PAS indirectly
through common issues, it is  still
helping PAS to increase its 
representation in Parliament.

The Westminster system may  have its
flaws but moderate Malaysians must do all they can to protect the system.

We should rectify the weaknesses of the system and not tear it  down entirely for another system  which we are not sure of.

There is a difference between  the forces
of democracy and the  forces of