By Wong Choon Mei
Unusually-high police presence and a growing barrage of verbal attacks against Pakatan Rakyat partner PAS have sparked concerns that the Umno-led Barisan Nasional might again resort to under-handed tactics to win at the Kuala Terengganu by-election due to be balloted this Saturday.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who faces enormous pressure to win, himself raised the temperature with a volley of red-hot accusations hurled directly at PAS , including labelling the Islamic-based party a ‘kluk klek’ or an unreliable party that does not keep its promises.
Amid the heightening tensions, Pakatan leaders and supporters are beginning to watch with a wary eye the movements of the more than 6,000 police personnel, including from the special branch, who were deployed to KT specially to monitor the by-election.
“Sure, it is partly meant to intimidate you and to give an impression that trouble may be brewing over the horizon, especially if Barisan Nasional does not win the by-election. But this is not the real reason,” said blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin, who is in KT campaigning for Pakatan.
Then what is the real reason?
Said KeADILan information chief Tian Chua : “We are quite confident of winning, provided there are no phantom voters. The large police presence in KT has given rise to worries that they might be roped in to pose as phantom voters on polling day.”
“They are hoping that at least 20,000 to 25,000 of you will not come out to vote. This is quite normal because in any election the best we can expect is a 70% or so voter turnout. 30% of 80,000, therefore, comes to roughly 20,000 to 25,000 ‘no show’ voters,” said the indomitable Raja Petra, uncowed despite his recent arrest under the oppressive Internal Security Act.
“They can then always ‘safely’ increase the voter turnout to 75% and no one will be the wiser. This means they can pad the ballot boxes with about 4,000 to 5,000 ‘additional’ votes with no problems whatsoever. Now can you see why they need 6,000 police personnel in Kuala Terengganu?”
If this is so, then the weather too may favour Najib - for rain has been predicted in KT by the Meteorological Department. According to its website, the morning is likely to be cloudy, while rain is expected in the afternoon.
Abusing the federal machinery and scaring civil servants
The BN has long been accused of ferrying outsiders or ‘mercenaries’ into town to vote for their candidate.
It is a tactic well-known in political circles and has been sharply criticized by the Pakatan and past opponents, who also condemn the ruling coalition for making full use of the gigantic federal machinery to its advantage.
It has been the cause of many a punch-up between supporters and the reason why opponents often stopped buses from coming close to the balloting centre.
But with the thousands of ‘police personnel’ already in place and waiting in the small and erstwhile peaceful coastal town - Pakatan leaders are afraid that voters will be intimidated and prevented from coming out to cast their ballot.
“It is their duty to search for news and secrets. Usually, they are in disguise. I am not sure what is their true purpose but based on past experience, some of their actions were to provoke people and these provocations can lead to something bad,” Terengganu PAS commissioner Mustafa Ali had said.
Even DAP’s rising star Teresa Kok has come out to remind KT folk to vote. She told a recent rally that each vote was not only sacred, it was also secret. Therefore, no one - especially civil servants - need worry that if they voted for the Pakatan, they would be found out and punished, she added.
There have been several rumours flying around KT, warning government servants that they would be punished if they did not vote for the BN.
All eyes on new EC chairman
Meanwhile, KeADILan vice president Mustafa Kamil Ayub has urged KT folk to take extra care over the next few days, and not to let anyone take photo-copies of their identity cards.
“The photocopies can be used to make false identity cards for the phantom voters,” Mustafa said. “Every vote counts. The majority of the winning candidate will not be large. Because of this, we of appeal to outstation voters to come home to KT and vote for the Pakatan candidate.”
The KT parliamentary seat is a three cornered fight between BN’s Wan Ahmad Farid, Pakatan’s Wahid Endut and independent candidate Azharudin Mamat @ Adam. The main battle will however be between the BN and Pakatan candidates.
There are 80,229 voters registered with the Election Commission. About 143 channels have been set up at 36 polling centres spread across the constituency. Of the 1,035 postal voters, 1,001 are police personnel, 27 are from the armed forces, while seven are students studying abroad.
All eyes are also on newly-appointed EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof. Under his predecessor, the commission held a somewhat tarnished image, constantly having to fight off accusations of favoring the BN government.
Will Abdul Aziz perpetuate this unwholesome image, or will he respect the wishes of all Malaysians that the truth prevail, and beginning with KT - put in place long-overdue safeguards for decent and honest fair-play.
Sumber: Suara Keadilan