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Sg Limau: Difficult to PASs

Posted: 01 Nov 2013 11:40 AM PDT

It will therefore not be surprising if PAS were to lose this seat. In fact they have already lost it even before the campaign started and now they are trying to claw their way back to victory.

Selena Tay, FMT

The by-election campaign in Sungai Limau, Kedah is in the final stage now as polling has been fixed for Monday, Nov 4. This PAS seat has been held by PAS for the past five terms but this time around PAS has found the battle tough going due to the abundance of goodies being dished out to the voters by the BN government.

The population demography from the recent 13th general election shows that Sungai Limau has 93% Malay voters, 6.7% Chinese voters, 0.1% Indians and 0.1% Others.

The total number of registered voters for the by-election is 27,222. In the 13th general election, the voter turnout was 24,349 and PAS won with a majority of 2,774.

This time the PAS candidate, Mohd Azam Abdul Samat, aged 37, just like his predecessor the late Azizan Abdul Razak, is an ustaz too and he will be going up against Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim from Umno, aged 52.

However, this is a rural seat and PAS cannot leverage on the implementation of the GST (Goods and Services Tax) to gain votes as the GST will have little impact on the self-sufficient voters.

Although Sungai Limau does not affect the status quo in Kedah, it is an important barometer to gauge the Malay support for PAS. If PAS loses this seat, will it indicate eroding Malay support for PAS?

This columnist's analyst friend had opined that if PAS loses Sungai Limau, then there will be more voices urging PAS to quit Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has also mentioned that PAS should merge with Umno and yet BN is doling out a massive amount of goodies in order to mercilessly wipe-out PAS from Sungai Limau.

This shows that it would be unwise for PAS to join Umno as PAS will only be swallowed up and become a non-entity.

"Umno's intention to get PAS to merge is so that Umno can 'sapu' PAS' one million supporters besides putting up a farcical show of Malay and Muslim unity," said PAS Shah Alam MP, Khalid Samad.


Back to the Sungai Limau by-election. Initial surveys revealed that the Chinese voters will vote for PAS while the Malays seem inclined towards BN.

Khalid also remarked that "BN is always doing a buy-election using the rakyat's money to woo the rakyat."

The Election Commission (EC) as usual is turning a blind eye towards all these BN shenanigans happening in Sungai Limau which include BN handing out hampers in the Sungai Dedap voting stream containing expired tins of sweetened creamer, preventing PAS' women from conducting house-to-house visits, having BN ceramahs next to PAS and spreading text messages accusing Mahfuz Omar (PAS Pokok Sena MP) of spreading rumours that the BN candidate has undergone mental treatment.

It begs the question of who is really having mental illness in this campaign.

These rough and unethical tactics are of course nothing new to BN.

The whole weight of the BN machinery is pitted against PAS. In by-elections, PAS has always find it more difficult to win compared to the general election because in by-elections the whole of BN's might is focused in a particular area.

Even PAS' visit to Jamil Khir Baharom's (Minister in the Prime Minister's Department) father who had suffered a stroke three years ago was made fun of by a columnist in a local English daily dated Oct 28, 2013.

If Umno people really loved PAS, why are they attacking PAS with such great intensity? Moreover it has always been PAS' practice to visit the sick and Jamil Khir's father happens to be a PAS member – this fact was conveniently omitted by that daily. Therefore PAS is merely visiting one of their members who is unwell.

With the PAS muktamar coming up on Nov 22 to 24, the result of Sungai Limau will have a huge bearing on the party's direction and roadmap. If PAS loses, then the motion for PAS to leave Pakatan will surely surface at the muktamar.



It is a right, not a privilege, so what now?

Posted: 01 Nov 2013 11:12 AM PDT 

The PPPA gives the Home Minister the power to grant and revoke publishing permits. But this, as our learned judges have pointed out, is not consonant with the right to freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to publish a newspaper, guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

Kee Thuan Chye 

Why was Malaysiakini's application to publish a daily newspaper in English of 40,000 copies to be sold only in the Klang Valley rejected?

All Malaysiakini asked for was to publish a daily newspaper in English of 40,000 copies to be sold only in the Klang Valley. But this was not acceptable to the Home Ministry, which rejected its application in August 2010. Why? What was the Government afraid of?

Sure, as an online news website, Malaysiakini had distinguished itself as a provider of news that the mainstream media often hid from the public for fear of offending the Government, and it had won tremendous support from truth-starved Malaysians who wanted to get "the other side of the story", the side that exposed the Government's shenanigans and deceptions. But the number of copies it was asking for its print version was relatively low, and with its distribution restricted to the Klang Valley, where there is a concentration of supporters of the Opposition, the newspaper would be mostly preaching to the converted anyway.

Besides, it was entering a market in which English-language newspapers owned by ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties, like The Star and New Straits Times, were already long entrenched and wielding considerable influence on their readers.

In any case, the Home Ministry did not give any grounds for rejecting Malaysiakini's application. But whenMalaysiakini brought the case to the High Court for a judicial review, the Minister had to state his reasons in an affidavit.

The case was heard in October 2012. The Government's lawyer submitted that the granting of a publication permit was a privilege, not a right. But the judge disagreed.

Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim said freedom of expression was a right guaranteed in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. And this right included the right to publish a newspaper. He ruled that the ministry's decision was "improper and irrational".

He also considered the minister's reasons for rejecting Malaysiakini's application as stated in his affidavit. One of them stupidly stated that it was because there were already a lot of newspapers in the market and Malaysiakini's entry would affect their profit margin.

The judge rightly pointed out that there was nothing in the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) that gave the minister power to regulate the market.

But of course! How could it be the job of the Home Minister to ensure that the profit margin of newspaper companies would not be affected?

Was the minister particularly concerned in this case because the newspapers were owned by BN parties, afraid that Malaysiakini might provide competition and affect their sales and therefore their profits? However you look at it, there was no cause for him to be involved in that aspect.

So the case ended with the minister and his ministry getting egg on their faces. Plus the judge quashed the ministry's refusal to grant the permit and asked Malaysiakini to reapply.

But the ministry was not satisfied. It decided to appeal the decision. The appeal was heard last Wednesday.

The Government's lawyer maintained that the granting of a publishing permit was a privilege, not a right, "as you have to apply first to get the permit". He also said the High Court judge might not have considered the reasons given by the minister in the affidavit.

He mentioned the one about there being already a lot of newspapers in the market and therefore the need for control. But this was not a bright move. The High Court judge had already dismissed that reason as being invalid. Why bring it up again?

The lawyer also mentioned the reason the minister had given about Malaysiakini's tendency to highlight sensitive and controversial news on its website. That didn't seem like a bright move either. Because Court of Appeal judge Alizatul Khair Othman retorted that security grounds had not been cited as a reason in rejecting the application. So where's the relevance?

In the end, the Government's lawyer must have failed to convince the three judges. They unanimously upheld the High Court's decision and dismissed the Government's appeal. And of course, Malaysiakini can re-submit its application.

It is highly important to consider that the Court of Appeal agrees with the High Court judge. This reaffirms the dictum that publishing a newspaper is a right, not a privilege, contrary to the Government's thinking.

In acknowledging that, where do we go from here?

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