On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

A vote for moderation or for extremism

His father, Por Swee Giap, 84, has the distinction of
being the state's first Chinese executive councillor. Even Dr Por was a state

The Por family has a strong traditional link with MCA. But Keadilan is bent on
changing that. The prize is the Indera Kayangan state seat.

So far, Dr Por has enjoyed the wooing from Keadilan leaders who, it is
believed, include party deputy president Azmin Ali and Penang deputy chief
Cheah Kar Peng.

The doctor has been non-committal but the temptation may become greater.
Unfazed, the party is sending party president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan
Ismail to sweet-talk him into accepting.

It's certainly a tough decision for a small town doctor – more so given his
family's political history and the pressure from his friends and

Being a well-respected figure, it's also hard to reject outright the carrot
that is being dangled – a shot at being elected a Yang Berhormat.

But that is not the only consideration. Dr Por must ask himself whether he
believes in the political agenda of Keadilan.

The party has claimed to fight for justice, democracy and accountability but
critics have said its sole objective is to free Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from
jail. Even one of its founding leaders, deputy president Dr Chandra Muzaffar,
has questioned the credibility and dedication of its leadership.

If Dr Por or other candidates do not believe in the party, it becomes a mockery
for them to contest under the Keadilan ticket.

For Dr Por, the situation is even more serious. If he gives in to persuasion,
it will be regarded, rightly or wrongly, as a political one-night stand.

Both Dr Por and Keadilan are strangers to each other. The test will be on Dr
Por and his principles. At stake is his credibility and integrity he has built
over the years.

It is normal for potential candidates to have a change of mind even after their
posters have been printed, or to find that they had been dropped.

Barisan Nasional's Oui Ah Lan, 58, found herself sidelined in the 1999 general
election after getting ready to join the fray. The Perlis Wanita MCA chairman
is now the Barisan candidate for Indera Kayangan.

Chinese candidates contesting the seat for Keadilan will also have to grapple
with the question of whether they believe in PAS' ambition to set up an Islamic
state ala Taliban.

As a Keadilan contender, do they support the pact with PAS that is rejected by
the majority among the Chinese community? Even the DAP is prepared to severe
its link with PAS because of the Islamic issue.

Keadilan is still vague on the issue but as a candidate, the person cannot run
away from being queried on his stand. More so because he will be supported by
PAS an

d will march to the nomination centre along with green PAS flags.

Still, the by-election will not be a walkover for Barisan. The opposition has
already used the age factor against Oui. At 58, the opposition has said she is
past her prime and should make way for younger leaders.

The argument has some merit. But with age also comes wisdom and experience.
Opposition figures like PAS president Datuk Fadzil Noor and DAP chairman Lim
Kit Siang are past 60.

Are these critics suggesting that Fadzil or Lim should also retire from

Oui, a former headmistress, has served as special assistant to Mentri Besar
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim and she understands the ground sentiments

She was undaunted after being dropped in 1999, and continued with her community
work unselfishly.

Umno and MCA campaigners must work doubly hard and not be lulled into complacency.
All the might with and well-oiled machinery of the coalition will come to
naught if the workers are not united.

The MCA leadership crisis will be exploited in the campaign. All MCA leaders,
whatever their differences, must be seen to campaign side by side.

In a by-election, voters tend to sympathise with the opposition. The argument
is that an extra opposition representative will not affect the political
equation in the state. Barisan will need ready answers for such tactics.

The voters of Indera Kayangan have a serious task, even as pundits predict an
easy Barisan victory. They have to choose between the politics of moderation
and the politics of extremism.

They have a message to send to moderate Malaysians: this country has no place
for extremists of any faith and ethnicity.