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Umno Also to Have Two Election Manifestos
By Raja Petra Kamarudin

Just a short while back, the ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), was ranting and raving about how insincere and hypocritical the opposition is. And what was the object of this tantrum by the BN leaders? Why, the opposition's two separate election manifestos of course.

The opposition had decided on one election manifesto at federal level and a separate one for those states like Kelantan and Terengganu that are predominantly Muslim with a Muslim population in the high 90s (in some constituencies almost 100%).

The opposition, in particular the Islamic Party of Malaysia (PAS) -- which incidentally one-time Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad mockingly said should be called “PIS” and not “PAS” -- was accused of trying to cheat the voters.

Actually, what is the big deal? Many countries, including the largest democracy in the world, the United States, have two systems -- one for the states and another for the federal government. It is not like what PAS is introducing is particular to Malaysia and alien to the rest of the world.

Anyway, quietly and without any undue fanfare in the local media -- lest Malaysians begin to realise that the ruling party is now aping the opposition -- the BN has just done exactly the same. Specific for Kelantan and Terengganu, Umno, which is the opposition in these two states, will also have separate election manifestos from the rest of the country as its new strategy to recapture these two states.

Honestly, Umno can have 22 election manifestos if it so wishes. It will still not succeed in winning back these two states.

The Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also the ruling coalition’s chief, said that Umno, the kingpin of the 14-party coalition, would prepare the manifestos for the two states.

So, it is going to be an UMNO manifesto then, not a BN one.

According to Abdullah, the need for a separate manifesto was what Terengganu Umno wanted and would be the only way they would have any chance of making a dent to the opposition in the next election. Well, the opposition almost made a clean sweep of the state so a dent or two will not hurt it much.

Abdullah, who met state Umno leaders in Putrajaya last week, said he was satisfied with the level of preparedness in the various states and that they are ready to face the election.

In November last year, Umno launched a programme called Gelombang Biru (Blue Wave), in a bid to reach out to PAS members and supporters through a door-to-door campaign and ceramahs (rallies) to persuade them to cross over to Umno.

According to Umno, at least 7,000 PAS members have since joined them. When this happened and who these 7,000 people are was not explained though.

Raja Petra Kamarudin
Director, Free Anwar Campaign - 23.02.2004

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