..One of the biggest headaches for the opposition is the recent public squabbling that showed up its lack of cohesion. This may turn off voters who see the quarrelling as a sign that the Pakatan Rakyat coalition is not ready to be in power.
Mr Anwar sought to dispel this perception by sharing the stage on the waterfront with Democratic Action Party (DAP) veteran Lim Kit Siang and PAS’ top leaders Hadi Awang and Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
He told the beach rally that the perception of opposition disunity was created by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and the media. He did not deny that there were differences but said they were manageable. ‘This is an Umno tactic, it is slander,’ he said at a press conference yesterday.
The most recent controversy was over the Islamic penal code or hudud, which prescribes punishments such as amputation of limbs for offences like robbery. Kelantan and Terengganu have hudud laws but neither has implemented them.
The issue resurfaced after PAS vice-president Husam Musa said the party will introduce hudud if it takes power, prompting a protest from its Chinese- based partner DAP.
Hudud is fast becoming the weakest link for the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, just like ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy) is a bone of contention to Umno and its BN partners.
Mr Anwar yesterday attempted a middle-of-the-road response that supported neither PAS nor DAP. He said there was nothing wrong with Muslims wanting to discuss a parallel legal system that will apply only to Muslims.
‘We abide by our Constitution, but we should allow Muslims to articulate their views. I have no objections discussing it within Pakatan,’ he said.
The government’s stand is that hudud is contrary to Malaysia’s Constitution.
Playing down the differences, Mr Anwar said Pakatan remained united in aiming to topple the government. ‘I want to say that we in the alliance are determined to topple the Barisan Nasional coalition,’ he told the crowd at the beach rally, to cheers of Allahu Akbar (God is Great).
The opposition is hoping that a win in Kuala Terengganu will weaken Deputy Premier Najib Razak, who is leading the BN campaign. He is under pressure to defend the seat won by Umno by a tight majority in the March 2008 general election.
Analysts have suggested that PAS may have a slight edge because of its popular candidate – a five-term assemblyman for a state seat under the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat.
Mr Anwar said a Pakatan win will show that change is irreversible.
Asked if Datuk Seri Najib’s credibility would be hit if Umno loses, he said: ‘The assumption is that he has credibility. I don’t share that view.’
Pakatan Rakyat remains united in Kuala Terengganu