PETALING JAYA: War has begun for the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat by-election in Penang as Umno Wanita chief Datuk Seri Sharizat Abdul Jalil went on a psychological attack against Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
And as quick as a ‘gun draw’ in western movies, PKR’s vice-president who is the daughter of the party de facto chief Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Nurul Izzah responded.
Both begin with a debate in the media – Sharizat said Permatang Pauh is not a private company limited, referring the candidate would be Anwar’s wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail or daughter newcomer Nurul Nuha, while Nurul replied saying political struggle is a family affair where the whole family struggles for the people and country.
While both slug it out in the media, the thing that matter most is the 70,000-odd voters who will be gambling their future – their minds torn between development and loyalty to a person.
Most of the voters know Anwar, know his wife and kids, know Anwar’s relatives and in fact even know which mosque Anwar prayed whenever he went back for his weekend constituency visit.
They also know Wan Azizah who was their MP for two terms when Anwar was in jail for abuse of power between 1999 until 2008 and know what and how much she had contributed or did not contribute to developing the constituency.
In short, they experienced life when Anwar was an Umno MP and then turned to be PKR MP.
But now the political landscape and political equation have changed – jailed for abuse of power in 1999 was very different from found guilty of sodomy one month ago – and the by-election is now in a situation where the opposition pact of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is broken into pieces with each party going its own way.
This time around, voters in Permatang Pauh may no longer go on emotion when voting as they had done in previous general elections and a by-election in 1999 when Wan Azizah replaced her husband as MP, where Anwar was the icon and idol of the constituency.
Times have changed and so do the minds of the voters, watching every move Anwar did and making their own judgement whether those moves were right or wrong, were for personal interest or the people’s interest and whether the co-operation with DAP and PAS were right or wrong.
The present political scenario vis-a-vis Penang’s policies under DAP is totally a new perspective to the voters, given the past five years where claims of Malays being sidelined and PKR, as a partner and holding Deputy Chief Minister post but with hands tied.
With the new perspective and views, the perception game in politics is now being used by Sharizat to psychic the voters.
As the Wanita Umno members are tasked with house-to-house campaign as always, Sharizat’s job seems to be quite easy with abundance of evidence of Malays being sidelined and policies being lopsided.
But the uphill task for Sharizat and her movement’s members is to convince the die-hard loyalists who still view Anwar as victims of a bigger political game, and to them it does not matter if the candidate is still Wan Azizah.
Sympathy and loyalty go hand-in-hand in this by-election, the two sentiments that will make Barisan Nasional (BN) and Sharizat task more difficult than a straight political battle base on everyday issues or the basic bread and butter.
PAS is another factor that determines the majority votes if PKR is to win the by-election as predicted by Malaysians in general.
Despite PAS deputy president Mohaad Sabu or Mad Sabu declaring the party would campaign for PKJR in the by-election, the ground sentiment is different and can be likened as in Kajang state seat by-election in January last year where PAS did not campaign for Wan Azizah.-MYNEWSHUB.CC