On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Beware of praises from the enemy

According to the findings of the purported survey, Najib
obtained 4,887 votes (62.54%), Muhyiddin 1,099 votes (14.06%), Abdullah 792
votes (10.14%) and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah 571 votes (7.31%).

Without saying more than the figures, PAS has conveyed the message that Pak
Lah, as the Deputy Prime Minister is called, trails behind the others in

The respondents of the survey are likely to be PAS supporters and the
credibility of the survey should thus be taken lightly, but Umno leaders are
not amused.

Over the past week, several senior Umno leaders have denounced the findings and
at the same time pledged their support for Abdullah.

There will be those who asked why such a display of allegiance is necessary
when the PAS survey has no basis. This is something Umno leaders must think
about before taking action.

Those who been fuelling the speculations of an impending fight obviously have
an agenda. For PAS leaders, they would love to see Umno leaders squabbling over
party posts as it would take the heat off the opposition party.

A bitter quarrel, as what is happening in MCA, will erode confidence in Umno
and certainly have a negative impact on voters.

PAS wants to attack Abdullah, who is also Home Minister, because he is one of
the few Umno leaders with Islamic credentials.

Abdullah, who graduated from Universiti Malaya with a degree in Islamic
studies, comes from a family of Islamic scholars. His father, Datuk Ahmad
Badawi, was a respected ulama who had joined other founding fathers to fight
against the clutches of the colonial masters.

By concocting a survey, PAS has deviously found a way to take pot shots at
Abdullah and at the same time fired the imagination of some lower-ranking Umno
leaders, who assume that there is mileage, if not money, to be made from a
power struggle among Umno leaders, especially between Pak Lah and Najib.

It cannot be denied that the rumours over the past weeks have been fanned
partly by Umno members who enjoy such politicking. As some Umno observers said,
''it's business as usual again in Umno'' following the recent Barisan Nasional
victories in by-elections.

Buoyed by the return of the Malay voters, there is a sense of renewed
confidence among Umno activists and the perception that the party is strong

Without question, the opposition front has been hurt by DAP's pullout while
Parti Keadilan Nasional has been hit by a series of resignations, including its
deputy president Dr Chandra Muzaffar.

After the Sept 11 incident, the image of PAS has taken a beating with its brand
of politics, especially its support for the Taliban.

The PAS survey seems to have affected some Umno members, judging from the
manner in which they have responded. With the party holding its elections next
year, it appears that some members are eager to start campaigning early.

Such loose talk, however, will not help the party, particularly when it has
regained some ground lost during the 1999 general election.

What Umno grassroots members should do is to step up the campaign against PAS
and not indulge in speculation. The party election campaign can come

The coast is not clear yet, as the saying goes. Umno and MCA must understand
that their real enemies are not within their parties but on the opposite side
of the bench.

The tactic adopted by PAS is no different from what the DAP did in the recent
Ketari by-election. DAP leaders issued press statements, not once but a few
times, to praise MCA deputy president Datuk Lim Ah Lek for the election

Instead of listing the various disadvantages it faces, as it usually does, the
DAP took a different tact by attempting to use Ah Lek to fight party president
Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik.

In fact, DAP leaders have turned up outside the MCA headquarters to cheer for
MCA leaders who are prepared to attack the existing leadership.

The bottom line is that Umno and MCA politicians should be concerned when
opposition leaders praise them because there is an obvious ulterior

What PAS and DAP would like to see is more washing of dirty linen in public by
competing Barisan leaders. After all, if somebody wants to do their job, why
not sit back and enjoy it?