On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Intense campaign for such a small seat

Well aware of the waning interest in Datuk Seri Anwar
Ibrahim, posters of the former deputy prime minister was conspicuously
downplayed in Kangar.

But it cannot be denied that Keadilan did put up a fight against Barisan.

As in any by-election, the focus is sharper. A smaller area also makes the
fight more intense.

In the case of Indera Kayangan, political gatherings were held several metres
away from each other. Often, speakers could hear each other's speech.

The allegations and counter-allegations were quick and fast, with both sides
calling for press conferences at midnight when the press deadline was well

But the trend of campaigning in Indera Kayangan is certainly worrying. Both
sides have been exceptionally aggressive.

The mudslinging was often unsubstantiated and involved character assassination,
including an alleged incestuous relationship 26 years ago. It then took on
racial and religious undertones.

Malay voters were told by the opposition not to vote for Barisan's Oui Ah Lan
because she is a Chinese while PAS allegedly claimed that it was religiously
correct to support Khoo Yang Chong because he represented Keadilan.

The Chinese education movement joined in the fray by campaigning for Keadilan
during the last lap.

The SRK Damansara issue in Petaling Jaya was dragged to Perlis, even if it had
little relevance to the people in Indera Kayangan.

The idea was to anger the Chinese voters, which made up 46.4% of the 7,976
voters in the constituency.

In fact, both sides harped on national and even international issues, such as
the Sept 11 tragedy in New York in this campaign.

But Malaysians must not forget that our country has been stable and that the
democratic system should never be taken for granted and abused.

Democracy has no meaning if racial and religious issues are used for political

In the aftermath of an intense campaign, we should reflect and take stock of
the situation for the good of the nation.