On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Slugging it out for crumbs

Following the meeting on Wednesday, the DAP issued a tame
statement to say it was putting off a decision on whether to stay in the
coalition and would “conduct a comprehensive review of DAP's position.''

Trouble erupted last week between the two parties over the choice of candidate
for the by-election on Nov 29.

Keadilan is headed by Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, wife of Datuk Seri
Anwar Ibrahim, which insisted their nominee Saifuddin Nasution Ismail should be
picked to contest the polls.

The two parties fought over the candidancy, with the opposition first choosing
Penang DAP assistant secretary S. Neelamekan and then quickly replacing him
with Saifuddin after Keadilan vice-president Tian Chua threatened to

When the DAP found itself outvoted, tempers flared immediately with DAP
secretary-general Kerk Kim Hock saying the DAP had been “stabbed from the

It isn't clear what will happen after the by-election as the DAP leadership
seemed ready to accept the apology from Keadilan deputy president Dr Chandra

Some DAP leaders, smarting from being played out by Keadilan, however said they
did not ask for an apology.

Lim described the incident as “the result of pure disgust at such unscrupulous
politics in the Barisan Alternatif.''

If Tian Chua was a brother comrade, he had turned into a “radical'' and a
“leftist extremist'' as far as DAP Socialist Youth leader Lee Kee Hiong was

DAP deputy secretary-general M. Kulasegaran said the decision by the opposition
not to field an Indian candidate was a racial slur on the Indian

>From the outset, the DAP grassroots had been unhappy with the tie-up with
Keadilan and PAS.

The pact, which led to the resignations of several DAP leaders last year,
caused the party to perform badly in the general election.

Besides Kit Siang, the other casualties were then chairman Dr Chen Man Hin and
DAP deputy chairman Karpal Singh.

It was simple. The non-Malay voters were not emotive with the Anwar issue.
Keadilan, to them, merely comprises former Umno members who wanted Anwar freed
from jail.

They were part of the establishment who had benefited politically and
financially for the past 16 years. Many were cronies, in fact.

Their slogans of democracy, justice and transparency sound hollow and
unconvincing, except to themselves and the foreign media.

PAS still refuses to dilute its religious extremism, coming out with
controversial statements such as barring beautiful women from working, separate
cashier's counters for males and females in supermarkets and preventing women
members from contesting in elections.

The DAP and Keadilan have both been losers. While the foreign press reported
extensively about Umno's declining support from the Malay voters, they refused
to mention that PAS has cleverly manipulated Keadilan and DAP to serve its

The longer Anwar remains in prison, the better it is for them. Parti Rakyat
Malaysia is, well, irrelevant to them.

Keadilan fared equally badly in the 1999 elections. In fact, many of its top
leaders were wiped out.

What they had done was to help PAS win more seats. PAS did nothing in

The same applies to the DAP with its supporters helping to canvass for votes
for PAS in Chinese areas, awkwardly carrying the white-moon-on-green background

But what it got in return was pittance, a few Malay votes, which made little
difference. The core Chinese votes were gone.

It's the same in Lunas. Keadilan and DAP are fighting for the crumbs. It's not
even a seat that Keadilan is assured of winning but as the two sides slug it
out, they won't benefit.

PAS is watching the two parties fight on the sidelines with glee, knowing they
will become weaker and bitter foes. If Keadilan wins Lunas, the Barisan loses
its two-thirds majority in Kedah.

It means PAS will become stronger in Kedah and the prospects of PAS capturing
the state become brighter.

It will be a PAS mentri besar, not a Barisan Alternatif mentri besar. Certainly
not Dr Chandra, Dr Wan Azizah or Nasution.

Thanks to the generosity of Keadilan and DAP, the Barisan will now have to face
an increasingly strong Islamist party that has little patience for

The response could be the need for Umno to project a more religious appeal to win
back its support.

PAS may be willing to accommodate some multi-culturalism, including allowing
the Chinese lion dance, as showcased in Kelantan recently, but don't forget
that it's a norm in other states already.

The issue at stake isn't the lion dance or karaoke but in a PAS administration,
there is no place for a non-Muslim or a woman.

For the voters of Lunas, they have an important message to send to the
opposition front.

Do they condone such blatant display of political greed, where power-sharing
and consensus becomes irrelevant?

Malaysians will judge the people of Lunas on whether Malays should only vote
for a Malay candidate and not for an Indian or a Chinese.

If they think such racial tendencies should become a political culture in
multi-ethnic and multi-religious Malaysia, then they should go ahead and vote
Keadilan. No, not Keadilan; PAS actually.