Sunday, March 9, 2014

Anwar’s guilty verdict will backfire on Barisan, say analysts

BY LOOI SUE-CHERN AND ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
MARCH 09, 2014
Pakatan Rakyat leaders at a convention which was held in Shah Alam yesterday. Analysts predict the coalition will receive a boost in its support base following Anwar's conviction for sodomy. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 9, 2014.Pakatan Rakyat leaders at a convention which was held in Shah Alam yesterday. Analysts predict the coalition will receive a boost in its support base following Anwar's conviction for sodomy. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 9, 2014.The Court of Appeal’s conviction of PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for sodomy and the five-year jail sentence meted out to him just four days before the Kajang by-election campaigning kicks off will result in a public backlash against Barisan Nasional (BN), political analysts said.
Professor Ahmad Atory Hussain, a political science lecturer from Universiti Sains Malaysia said the latest development was likely to deliver Pakatan Rakyat (PR) a bigger win in the state seat this time.
He said there is every possibility political parties from both sides of the divide will play on the sentiments of the people as they campaign towards polling day on March 23.
"With about 75% of Selangor voters supporting PR for two terms now, it is logical to conclude that the state seat will return to PKR with perhaps a bigger majority... it will be miraculous if BN can win it," he told The Malaysian Insider after the appellate court overturned the High Court’s acquittal of Anwar on a charge of sodomising his former aide six years ago.
"It depends on how they campaign. It is all about the style of presentation and PR is very good at persuading the masses.
Anwar was Pakatan Rakyat's candidate after polls were triggered by the resignation of its assemblyman Lee Chin Cheh on January 27, but with his conviction, his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail is giong to run for the state seat.
Ahmad Atory said issues BN could use against PR include the internal strife plaguing the three component parties, which may not even be relevant or strong enough to change Kajang voters’ minds.
He also said Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will likely stay as head of government.
Khalid could possibly become PKR deputy president too, should he contest the post, he added.
"He may be more suitable for the post because he has had over a term in office as Menteri Besar to show his performance and he has delivered.
"People have seen what he can do and he has many supporters in Selangor. What has (PKR deputy president) Azmin Ali delivered so far as MP?” said Ahmad Atory.
"I foresee a tough fight involving personalities like Khalid, Azmin and party vice-president Tian Chua in the May party election," he added.
Asked to comment on criticisms against the justice system following the Court of Appeal’s verdict, Ahmad Atory said it would be unfair to write off the entire judiciary just because people disagreed with the decision of judges.
"I admit the people will perceive the judiciary negatively now but we have no way of knowing what happened," he said.
Penang Institute fellow and political and social analyst Dr Wong Chin Huat told The Malaysian Insider in a text message that Anwar has become a "martyr and a symbol of BN tyranny".
He said the government will see how angry the people are, with messages of "Reformase 2.0" overflowing on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
On Friday night, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali declared the beginning of Reformasi 2.0 to hundreds of supporters who had converged at the party’s election centre at Kampung Sungai Sekamat, Kajang, urging BN’s ouster.
"PKR's candidate will ride on the public opinion of anger and sympathy and if the right candidate is chosen for the Kajang by-election, BN may experience a humiliating defeat and even a lose its deposit," Wong said.
Political analyst Khoo Kay Peng, concurred, describing Anwar's conviction as a rallying point for PR, one that would tip the by-election in the opposition’s favour.
"The conviction will be used as a focus point by Pakatan Rakyat. You can expect the coalition to be more vocal and stronger," he said.
Anwar was found not guilty of sodomising Saiful in January 2012 at the end of the defence case. The prosecution filed an appeal against the decision, which led to the appellate court overturning the High Court’s verdict on Friday. – March 9, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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