Agenda Daily


The de facto Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's return to parliament, courtesy of his thumping victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election,spells more bad news for the government, in particular the Prime Minister. All eyes will be on what's to come next.


DATUK SERI ANWAR IBRAHIM'S RESOUNDING victory in the Aug 26 Permatang Pauh Parliamentary by-election marked another milestone in his checkered career and in the short-but-troubled history of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi?s administration.

The de facto Parti Keadilan Rakyat leader and the grand master of Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) easily beat his Barisan Nasional (BN) opponent Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah and the Parti Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) non-starter, Hanafi Mamat.

He polled 31,195 votes against Arif Shah?s 15,524 and Hanafi's 92 to give him a majority of 15,671. It was a significant improvement over his wife, Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail?s 13,338 majority in the March 8 general election.

Anwar's victory was widely expected. But many observers had not expected him to better his wife's performance.

His stunning victory after more than a decade of hiatus will almost certainly spell further problems for the beleaguered Abdullah, who may now face greater challenges at Umno's December election.

There are bound to be fresh calls for him to step down as Umno President and Prime Minister.

There may even be enough divisional nominations for the sole contender, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

Irrespective of what will happen next to Anwar in light of his upcoming sodomy trial, the by-election results unequivocally have proved that he is still popular with the people.

Money can’t buy everything, you know THIS has to be one of the costliest and most hotly

contested by-elections in the nation's history. While money was king in Permatang Pauh, the victims were truth and decency.

The Prime Minister’s promise of a clean government and a fair election notwithstanding, money official and private played a major role.

Even Parti Keadilan Rakyat and its Pakatan Rakyat allies thought of nothing about employing money politics and deploying their official power despite condemning their National Front nemesis of the evil.

As far as private money was concerned, both Anwar and his BN opponents had enough personal and partyrelated funds to splurge on the electors. But alas, the BN's generosity came to no avail!

For Anwar, despite being out of power for a decade, he still has some wealthy friends and associates. These are people and corporations he had helped with contracts and other favours when he was in power.

Then, there are those who are buying insurance policies and seeking safe passages just in case Anwar isn’t bluffing about toppling the Abdullah government on or by the magical date of Sept 16.

His victory may further encourage the anti-Abdullah BN MPs to cross over to his side.

Abdullah may not be a brilliant tactician, but he was aware that the by-election had a nationwide implication. Thus, it was for this reason that he went back on his own words and hastened the fuel price adjustments.

He knew that he needed to pacify not only the Permatang Pauh voters but also the whole country in order to stifle Anwar’s return.

So, on Aug 22, he personally announced a 15-sen lowering of the petrol price per litre despite an earlier decision that there would be no price reviews until September.

The price of RON97 petrol went to RM2.55 per litre, the lower-grade RON92 petrol went down by 22 sen to RM2.40 and diesel by eight sen to RM2.50.

Abdullah, who is also Finance Minister, made the announcement two days after reiterating that any cuts in the prices of petrol would not happen before Aug 31.

While motorists will not complain about the 5.6% downward adjustment, which may or may not reflect global oil prices, the action suggests that the government was desperate to stop

Anwar’s return to Parliament.

It is further proof of the flip flop stand of the Abdullah government on major economic

issues and its willingness to resort to convenience instead of hard economic decisions for the sake of politics.

And why should Abdullah be lamenting about the current high inflation rate when he should have known that raising fuel prices by a whopping 41% in June would have such an effect on consumer prices.

Dragging Islam through the mud BUT the real victims in the Permatang Pauh byelection

shenanigans were truth and decency. Above all, it showed to what ridiculous extent politicians and their hangers-on are willing to go to save their posteriors.

Among the victims is Islam. Never before in the history of an election has the esteem of Islam been dragged down so low and in a manner so thoroughly detestable.

That Islam is an important factor in the Malaydominated Permatang Pauh constituency is well

established. Before Anwar wrested it in 1982 for the BN, Permatang Pauh was a Pas stronghold.

Pas is still a force to be reckoned with. One of the three state seats in the constituency is held by Pas.

The second is held by PKR and the third by Umno.

But since 1982, Permatang Pauh has neither been a Pas nor Umno nor PKR stronghold. It is, for all intents and purposes, Anwar Ibrahim territory.

In recent weeks, Islam has been taken to a new political dimension one that could have lowered the esteem and sacredness of the religion among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

It took the form of public confessions done in the name of Allah and in using the Islamic rule of evidence in what was essentially a criminal case under civil law.

Since these actions involved two very prominent figures in Malaysian politics, namely, Anwar and Deputy Prime Minster Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, they cannot be taken lightly.

It started with Anwar demanding that he be tried under the Islamic rule of evidence that requires his accuser and former special assistant, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, to produce four Muslim witnesses of good moral standing to testify that there was an act of sodomy which they had witnessed with their very own eyes.

Saiful, who had met both Mohd Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor days before making a police report against Anwar, responded by taking a sumpah laknat before several officials of the Federal Territory Mosque in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 16, a day before the Permatang Pauh nomination day.

In his confession, which he made in the name of Allah, he said Anwar buggered him. Some Muslims considered this type of confession as being the most serious, as the confessor calls upon Allah to punish him had he told a lie. Laknat in Arabic (also in Malay) means to condemn.

His confession was put in jeopardy when one of the mosque officials, Imam Ramlang Parogi, claimed that he was ordered by people in high places to be a witness.

He went on to appear at the People?s Justice Party (Keadilan)’s ceramahs in Permatang Pauh to explain his position. Ramlang’s ‘confession’ strengthened the conspiracy allegation that Anwar had levelled against his accusers.

While Saiful’s confession was made in full glare of the media on Aug 15, the confession letter, as published by Sin Chew Daily on Aug 16, showed that it was dated Aug 14.

Closely tracking Saiful to the mosque to confess was Mohd Najib. He went to a mosque in Permatang Pauh to confess in Allah’s name that he had neither met nor knew the murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu.

Mohd Najib’s political adviser, Abdul Razak Baginda, and two policemen are on trial for her


The civil courts are not bound and are not likely to treat these confessions as relevant and admissible to any trial.

Among the Muslims, there are those who abhor such actions while the majority are generally unsure of the religious and legal implications of such a confession.

What now for Abdullah?

THE outcome of the by-election does little to lessen the pressure on the Prime Minister. Soon, the people will forget about the brouhaha and refocus their attention on day-to-day living.

With the July inflation registering a whopping 8.5% increase compared to the same month a year ago to record a new 27-year high, Abdullah?s approval rating is at an all-time low.

Abdullah has been quoted as saying that the government hoped the reduction in petrol and diesel prices would help alleviate the burden on consumers and reduce the pressures of inflation.

The Prime Minister has to be naive to think that manufacturers and traders would reduce prices to reflect the lower fuel prices when the government itself is slow to respond to falling crude oil prices in the world market.

Abdullah will continue to face pressure in his own party as the December leadership election nears. His 2010 handover pledge continues to be questioned and the groundswell favours his early departure.

Anwar’s victory will further embolden Pakatan Rakyat and make the threat of a large-scale crossover by BN MPs more plausible.

With a seat in Parliament, Anwar stands a better chance of fighting his personal battle in court.Even if he's convicted and loses his seat, the momentum he has helped to create can be expected to continue to propel the People?s Alliance in the months and years to come.

That could spell disaster for the BN and, in particular, Umno, if the leadership of the latter

remains unchanged.

As a seasoned politician, Abdullah is aware that his position in the government and Umno is no longer tenable, but is staying on at the behest of his political and corporate allies who need more time to tie up loose ends and make exit plans.

The outcome of the Permatang Pauh polls clearly shows that many voters sided with Anwar not because they like or trust him but because they dislike and distrust the government more.

Anger was a major motivation for them to go against the BN.

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