On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

An alliance that offers no alternative

Although the Barisan Alternatif manifesto has left out
the setting up of an Islamic state, PAS 
leaders have continuously vowed 
to push for hudud laws if they 
come to power.

The statements and practices  of PAS have
proved that they are  not committed to
multi-racialism  and liberalism.

The party is not fielding any  woman
candidate. Yet women  groups backing the
Opposition  have sadly maintained their

Keadilan and DAP, in an attempt to remove the fears of the  Chinese, have said that PAS  would not come to power.

Not many Chinese voters are  likely to be
convinced. Keadilan,  DAP and PRM
together may  field more candidates than
PAS  but it is almost certain that
PAS  will win the most seats.

The bottomline is that PAS will  call the
shots and be the dominant party in Barisan Alternatif.

The ability of PAS to come to  power is
not unreal, despite the  findings of a
recent survey  showing that 60% of
respondents  backing Barisan.

The survey reported that 52%  of Malay
votes will go to Barisan, 33% to PAS, 10% to Keadilan, 3% to the DAP and 2%
to  others.

Of the Chinese votes, 74% will  go to
Barisan, 4% to PAS, 3% to  Keadilan, 10%
to DAP and 9% to  others.

Of the Indian votes, 91% will  go to
Barisan, 7% to PAS and 2%  to

The survey has basically confirmed the feelings of many Chinese voters and when
the DAP  leadership decided to
partner  PAS and Keadilan, they should  have understood the consequences.

The tie-up, in fact, infuriated  many DAP

DAP secretary-general Lim  Kit Siang has
said that the unprecedented opposition unity 
and possibility of breaking the 
Barisan clout itself was worth it.

But the feeling of many Chinese voters is that while they  welcomed the DAP's struggle  for civil liberties, the party had  run contrary to its cause by  working with PAS.

The community is not afraid of  Islam but
rather PAS' brand of  politics and
interpretation of the  religion.

Besides that, the participation  of DAP
leaders in Keadilan linked reformasi demonstrations  has cost the DAP some support.

The Chinese community is  known for its
phobia of luan  (chaos), preferring
economic  and political stability.

The younger DAP leaders may  not
understand this but surely  the veterans
must be able to  gauge the mood of the
Chinese  electorate.

Many people also felt that DAP  deputy
chairman Karpal Singh  had gone
overboard. As a lawyer, he may be doing his best for  his client, Datuk Seri Anwar  Ibrahim, but his courtroom theatrics are not

Chinese voters may sympathise with former MP for Kota Melaka Lim Guan Eng who
was  jailed but they are unlikely to
be  emotional over the Anwar issue.

Most Chinese voters believe  that Dr
Mahathir has performed  very well in
turning the economy  around and
maintaining political  stability.

Many in the Chinese community do not take Keadilan leaders  seriously because they are regarded as people
who had made  money and are now
criticising  the Government, not because
of  injustices but simply because  they are no longer influential.

For the DAP, their strategy  and
inability to read the mood of  their core
supporters would cost  them many

Realising their weakness, DAP  leaders
now tell Chinese voters  the party is in
danger of closing  shop if the votes
don't come in.

The sympathy tactic may work  to some
extent, but the DAP  should have fought
its own battle   like what the PBS is
doing in  Sabah.

The PBS, as a predominantly Christian party, understood the  situation and refused to be part  of Barisan Alternatif.

Among the opposition front  component
parties, PAS looks  set to do better than
the DAP,  PRM or Keadilan.

If Keadilan fares badly, many  of its
leaders will likely apply to  rejoin
Umno. As part of establishment for the last 16 years  and having benefited from the  system, it is unlikely that the  Keadilan leaders are able to bear  the difficulties of being in the  Opposition.

To most Chinese voters, Barisan Alternatif is no alternative to  Barisan Nasional.