By Adib Zalkapli
KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 13 - After struggling to get its message across to the largely Malay electorate in the Kuala Terengganu by-election, the Barisan Nasional (BN) has gone on the offensive against Pas, with Datuk Seri Najib Razak calling the Islamists a 'flip-flop party.' In a clear indication that BN will go on the offensive in the home stretch of the campaign, the Umno deputy president told a gathering of party supporters late last night that Pas failed as administrators in the state when it ruled for one term between 1999 and 2004.
He accused Pas of constantly changing its colours to suit the politics of the day, pointing out that the Islamists were bending over backwards to accommodate its secular partners DAP over the hudud issue. 'Pas kluk klek,' he told supporters, using the local Terengganu dialect term for 'flip-flop.' During the rally, the BN campaign also presented a slide show of newspaper clippings to show what BN deemed the 'failings' of the previous Pas government.
The Malaysian Insider understands the more aggressive approach was deemed necessary to counter the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) campaign which has put BN on the defensive in recent days. BN has even been forced to defend its candidate's character. Najib's speech last night signalled a much more focussed approach to the campaign by targetting Pas rather than the entire PR alliance.
The by-election which was called following the death of Deputy Education Minister Datuk Razali Ismail, is crucial for Najib as it is widely seen as a referendum on his leadership. BN's Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Salleh is running against Wakaf Mempelam assemblyman Abdul Wahid Endut of Pas and an independent Azharudin Adam.
Last night's rally, aimed at reminding the voters on Pas's alleged failure when ruling Terengganu was attended by about 2,000 people.
'In Kuala Terengganu we will close Pas's chances of ruling the country, because we still remember,' said Najib in ending his 15 minutes speech, referring to Pas's labelling of Umno as infidels previously.
Throughout the campaign since nomination day Jan 6, BN campaigners have been labelling Pas a puppet of the Chinese-majority party DAP, as the party that ruled Terengganu from 1999 to 2004 has toned down its stand on the implementation of Islamic law.
Pas was also attacked throughout the campaign by party workers for awarding freehold land titles to residents in hundreds of villagers in Perak and for appointing a DAP rep Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham as the state executive councillor for land, a post traditionally held by the Menteri Besar.