PERMATANG PASIR BY-ELECTION: The shame of a simple mistake

Failure to spot Rohaizat’s past may cost BN dearly

SHAMSUL YUNOS Malay Mail

Permatang%20Pasir%20By-electionThursday, August 20th, 2009

To say that Barisan Nasional (BN) has made it difficult for itself when it chose a candidate, that is a soft target for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR), is a massive understatement.

If this is a pole-climbing contest, BN has smeared theirs with grease and put bamboo spikes at the bottom of the pole, and told their candidate to climb up, with one hand tied behind his back at night, during a thunderstorm.

The laws of probability say their candidate for Permatang Pasir Rohaizat Othman still has a chance but there are so many zeroes padding the decimal point that for Rohaizat’s actual chance of winning is smaller than finely chopped bacteria.

Even the most strident Umno supporters have been scratching their heads, wondering how a simple background check failed to highlight a possible legal minefield in the candidate’s history.

BN made such a fantastic choice of candidate for Manek Urai and proved to themselves that, first and foremost, people just want honest and hardworking candidate to look to and consider voting for. But, it appears now that this is not the case in their choice for Permatang Pasir.

Rohaizat’s past has been the topic of most political speeches since the start of campaigning and the questions raised by PR speakers were simple ones, but they struck close to the heart.

The statement by the Bar Council that Rohaizat was struck off the Roll of Advocates and Solicitors because the complaint was personal to him is a major blow, making it even more difficult for Umno to prop up their candidate’s limp credibility.

Some have suggested that BN should go along the lines that Pakatan Rakyat’s leadership is a veritable roll call of ex-convicts; Anwar was jailed for sodomy, Lim Guan Eng was behind bars for breaking the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Muhammad Sabu was caught with a woman he was not married to in a hotel room and the list goes on.

Those are facts but they are not the sort that fence sitters are attracted to and it has nothing to do with PAS candidate, Mohd Salleh Man.

The opening act fiasco in Permatang Pasir has apparently caused deep unhappiness within the BN machinery, with some people talking about darker shades of grey creeping up amongst grassroots leaders.

This sort of mutinous talk will not help BN’s assault in Permatang Pasir and each day that passes without any concrete evidence of Rohaizat’s innocence is another day wasted in the effort to win over undecided voters.

The bottom line is PR’s smear campaign on Rohaizat’s personality will make it difficult for people to justify voting for him. As humans, we have an in-built moral circuit breaker. It is called shame.

There is no doubt that the circuit breaker had been triggered in many voters who are thinking of tipping the scale on BN’s behalf. So now, even if they are still resolved to vote for Rohaizat, they will have to do it quietly with their heads hanging low.

You cannot win an election without a strong sense of pride and that is sorely lacking in the BN camp.

For most reporters on the ground, the Permatang Pasir by-election is a major letdown; the climax came even before the heavy petting ended and we are left holding on to a limp campaign.

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Filed under Malaysia News, Malaysian Election, UMNO

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