March 29, 2009 By Debra Chong
TAIPING, March 29 – Not surprisingly, Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, the Pas candidate for Bukit Gantang, called the parliamentary by-election a “referendum” for both the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) alliance and its arch-rival the Barisan Nasional (BN).
“This is a referendum for the people of Perak, especially in Bukit Gantang,” declared Nizar, who was nominated for the position after he was unceremoniously ejected from his menteri besar post last month.
“It’s for the people to show they do not want an administration that defies the rule of law,” added the Pasir Panjang assemblyman who maintains he is still Perak’s lawful chief executive and has taken the case to court.
However, newly-elected Umno deputy president and incoming deputy prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who led the top-level leaders from BN this morning, disagreed with Nizar’s view.
Who'll answer his question, Nizar? A Pas supporter at the nomination centre in Bukit Gantang today. - Reuters pic
“I don’t think that’s the right way of looking at it,” Muhyiddin said, adding that every by-election should stand on its own and should not be a reflection of any leader.
Nizar, 52, pointed out that the political gridlock in the state was caused by “a conflict between truth and falsehood”.
“Pakatan is the truth and falsehood is those who robbed power,” said Nizar, who said he was confident of victory.
Muhyiddin, on the other hand, was firm in explaining that the BN had not performed a coup d’etat as claimed by the opposition front but had followed the law in taking back the state.
Muhyiddin has been tasked by incoming prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to head up all three by-election campaigns.
He told reporters he will be spending at least “five or six days out of the eight or nine” in Bukit Gantang, which despite his words, strongly signals the BN’s commitment to Perak.
Muhyiddin was also accompanied by the other two candidates for deputy Umno president, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib and Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.
Nizar was the first to file his nomination papers at the town council office here at 9.06am followed by BN’s Ismail Saffian at 9.20am and an unknown independent candidate, entrepreneur Kamarul Ramizu Idris at 9.35am.
He was escorted inside by his wife and the top leaders from PR, notably Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, PKR vice-president Mustafa Kamil Ayub and DAP father and son team Lim Kit Siang and Guan Eng.
Wheelchair-bound DAP chairman, Karpal Singh, arrived later, delayed by an incident where he claimed several uncouth youths from Umno had lobbed mineral water bottles at his van when his driver took a route passing through BN supporters.