It appears to be a case of tit-for-tat as the political temperature soars in the run-up to the coming general election.
Just a few days earlier, Umno had hit
out at DAP deputy chairman Karpal Singh, questioning his ethics as a lawyer. The MP for Jelutong was criticised for allegedly abusing the courts for his political agenda.
To emphasise the ideological differences of the Opposition, the MCA rapped PAS deputy president Abdul Hadi Awang for his attempt to table a Bill to curb the propagation of religions
other than Islam.
The message was clear: PAS is bent on
setting up an Islamic state and the DAP
is guilty by association.
The latest relevation by Murad will work
two ways. To reformasi supporters, the allegations of huge slush funds would just be another government
conspiracy to discredit Anwar, while
allegations made by the Opposition, particularly PAS, are believable and
No amount of explanation by Barisan leaders would make a difference.
Murad's expose would, however, make an
impression on the fence-sitters. It could damage Anwar's credibility and set
back his campaign.
More importantly, the various issues over the past week have put the Opposition on the defensive.
For the last six months, the Opposition has come up with all kinds of issues
ranging from the construction of
Putrajaya to the alleged arsenic
poisoning of Anwar.
The poisoning episode, however, proved
to be damaging to the Opposition as tests carried out locally and overseas have proved negative.
With no arguments left, the Opposition resorted to calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be set up.
In a bid to return to the spotlight, the
Opposition unveiled its election
manifesto last week. Although Malaysian elections have never been won on manifestos, the move by the Opposition is refreshing.
As our voters become more educated and urbanised, they would want to study the programme and written promises by political parties. It is likely to be a trend in the coming years.
The biggest achievement by the
Opposition is, perhaps, the decision
by PAS to drop its “Islamic state'' demand in the manifesto. This
must have been the result of a
compromise among the leaders of Parti
Keadilan Nasional, PAS, DAP and
The Opposition was clear on its decision to repeal the Internal Security Act if it comes to power.
The biggest flaw, however, is the lack
of clarity on other laws which the
Opposition has claimed to be draconian in nature.
Despite its talk of justice, the Opposition is only ready to commit itself to
review laws such as the University and University Colleges Act and the Printing and Publications Act.
Setting up committees to review these
laws with no time-frame will be perceived
as a delaying tactic with no sincerity
in abolishing these laws.
The Opposition's follow-up action of
presenting an alternative budget was an
unprecedented move although it received
In fact, it would do the Malaysian
political system a lot of good if they
take it a step further by setting up a
If Dr Jomo Sundram has drawn up an
alternative budget, along the lines of a
shadow finance minister, surely Keadilan
leader Irene Fernandez can be shadow
human resources minister. It would be interesting to see what she has to offer Malaysian workers, after fighting for foreign workers for years.
The biggest blow to the Opposition must
surely be Budget 2000 tabled by First
Finance Minister Tun Daim
Call it an election budget if you must;
the fact remains that it is a bag of
So what if Budget 2000 is aimed at
getting votes? After all, the whole
point of an Alternative Budget is to
Civil servants, some of whom have been
involved in anti-government activities, should be grateful for the increase in
wages and other perks.
Unlike workers in the private sector, they enjoy job security or what is known as the “iron rice-bowl'' during an economic crisis.
Now that the Government has been
generous in the budget, civil servants
should focus their attention on improving efficiency and
More important, the budget will lead to
a trickle-down effect, so the economic
recovery can be felt by all
With the euphoria over the budget, it
won't be long before the general
election is called.