QUESTIONS put forward to both Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim
1. What is the significance of this by-election to you?
It is to enable me to represent the rakyat in Permatang Pauh with a clear agenda. The agenda is for change in the country and that is why we touch on the price hike issue, on national unity, economic programmes and advancement in good governance.
2. Some say this by-election is really a contest between you and Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be the next prime minister.
This is Pakatan (Rakyat) versus BN. What is critical is the agenda, not the personalities. It's what we stand for. Pakatan policy is obvious and I have mentioned it before. And what Umno stands for is known to the rakyat. They have condoned corruption and enriched a few in the name of the New Economic Policy (NEP).
3. What do you think of Arif?
He has served the Seberang Jaya (state seat) constituents, but he represents Umno. Umno condones racial politics, corruption and has mismanaged the economy.
4. Observers say you have the upper hand.
The majority Azizah (Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) obtained in March was massive . But you know the whole cabinet is here, the entire federal government resources are here. And of course the mainstream media attack me. We have to work very hard.
5. Chinese votes are very significant in this by-election. Are you confident you can get most of their votes?
I am encouraged by the level of support. But we are working hard in the Chinese areas. I am sure the Chinese will choose a party that will represent all races.
6. (Former Parti Keadilan Youth chief) Ezam Mohd Noor is campaigning against you. Is he a problem to you?
He is a non-issue. He has to impress his master.
7. You have been criticised by Umno for your stand on the NEP.
The problem with the Umno-controlled media is that they are so biased that they do not report our views. I would suggest you read our Malaysia Economic Agenda. I stand by what I have said there. Our policy is to raise our competitiveness and to help the rakyat, the majority of whom are Malays. I oppose a policy which is enriching Umno leaders and their representatives.
Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah
1. What is the meaning of this by-election for you?
It's a blessing for the cleansing of the curse on Permatang Pauh. In the past 10 years, Permatang Pauh has been represented by the opposition. Federal assistance has been denied to the people here because it's an opposition area. It's because the opposition MP did not have good accessibility and relationship with the federal (government). With this contest, the people of Permatang Pauh have been given an opportunity to choose between gambling their future for the next five years and voting for Barisan Nasional so that they can enjoy the benefits.
2. People say this is really an election between Anwar and Najib.
People can say what they like. To us and the people in Permatang Pauh, this is an opportunity for them to have someone who can provide service to them. It's not a fight between Anwar and Najib; it's a fight for the people to take back the seat from the opposition.
3. What do you think of Anwar?
He has some strength being a popular figure globally and in the state. But my strength is that the people now want change. I am an opposition member in the state. Even though I am the state assemblyman, I have no access to a lot of funding from the state government. Therefore, it is vital for them to give me the opportunity to be an MP. Coupled with my good relationship with the prime minister, deputy prime minister and the federal government, I would be able to have access to federal funding.
4. Anwar says Umno is playing the racial card.
I am a person who subscribes to a multiracial (agenda), sharing of wealth and opportunities. But certain privileges that are for the Malays, no one, including myself, can touch on them. What we want is to enlarge the cake so that the non-Malays would not feel that they have been neglected. You can see the changes in the federal government now; they have relaxed scholarship quota and assisted Chinese and Tamil schools. In the state assembly, I have fought for the Chinese to have a funeral parlour in Seberang Jaya. I have also asked the current state government to give RM1,000 every year to each "po tou" (hungry ghost festival). I don't have to speak for them, but I speak.
5. Anwar said you are a good guy but you subscribe to a racist Umno.
If I subscribe to racism, I won't send my children to Chinese schools. Anwar and other opposition members are purposely creating the impression that Umno is a racist party. No, if Umno is a racist party, it would not subscribe to have BN and share power with other component parties.
6. Umno leaders have criticised Anwar's views on the NEP. What sort of economic policy do you advocate?
The NEP has been made out to be a racist policy that promotes cronyism. The problem here is not the NEP. The NEP has also benefited other races. For example, if a construction (project) is awarded to a Malay company, 60% of its hardware supply has to come from the Chinese because there are no Malays in the hardware supply business. So if it's RM100 million, RM60 million goes to the Chinese. Anwar is portraying the wrong situation. The truth will prevail one day.
source : theedgedaily.com