By Clara Chooi
HULU SELANGOR, April 18 — Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim today defended PAS’s absence in the Hulu Selangor by-elections campaign, saying the Islamist party had a “different strategy”.
Khalid, who is leading PKR’s campaign here for Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, said PAS is focusing in the recesses of the Malay villages in Hulu Bernam, not in the towns of Kuala Kubu Bharu or Serendah where the presence of Chinese voters is heavier.“That is why you do not feel PAS presence. It is not true that they are not aiding us for whatever reason,” he reassured the media after attending the Vaisakhi Day celebration with the Sikh community in Kuala Kubu Bharu here this evening.
Khalid said all three Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties have different strategies and tactics in deploying their manpower for the by-election.
“They (PAS) are very strong in Hulu Bernam, they are in the Malay grounds. They will be here too but they will be here just to assist us,” he defended. He added that unlike PAS, the DAP’s presence is strong in Kuala Kubu Bharu and Serendah due to the racial composition of the areas.
“That is the reason why PAS’s presence is not felt here,” he explained.
Khalid added that another reason why PAS’s presence does not seem very strong in the by-election is because the Election Commission (EC) had made a specific request for only the flags of PKR to be used during the campaign.
“So you only see PKR flags around and it seems as if the PAS is not here to help.
“Last time, we used many flags but now, we only use one. So you can never tell if PAS is present or not,” he said, smiling.
Despite the declaration of its president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang yesterday that PAS had forgiven Zaid of his past mistakes, the presence of the Islamist party in the by-election is significantly scant.
In most political ceramahs in the previous by-elections, PAS members and their supporters usually make up a large portion of the election machinery muscle for the PR.
In the PKR-planned ceramahs which have taken place since yesterday when the campaign period kicked off, PAS speakers have been missing from the line-up. The functions more often than not only involve politicians from PKR and the DAP.
Earlier today, PKR elections director Fuziah Salleh also rubbished claims of a strain between PAS and PKR, saying that the relationship between the two parties remain strong.
She had claimed that PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Seri Nik Aziz Nik Mat himself had given his blessings to Zaid for his contest in the by-election.
Barisan Nasional (BN) has capitalised on the alleged clash of principles between PAS and Zaid, who has been accused of being un-Islamic for consuming alcohol, encouraging gambling and womanising.
Zaid himself had admitted yesterday to having consumed alcohol in the past but also said that he is now a reformed man who had repented his sins.
Meanwhile, Khalid said that the PKR’s campaign is progressing well and the people of Hulu Selangor are responding positively to Zaid.
“In fact, it is above our expectation. Initially, we were quite worried about whether the people of Hulu Selangor would want an ex-minister of certain calibre to represent them even though he is not totally local.
“However, after one day of campaigning, we do see the acceptance of the people. The people want a candidate who had the principle of doing things correctly. The people of Hulu Selangor want a leader and not a follower and compared to (BN candidate) P. Kamalanathan, Zaid is a leader.
“Kamal, still has to learn how to lead. He was just a compromise candidate so he has to prove his method. I think the people, rather than take the risk, should choose Zaid,” said Khalid.