By Adib Zalkapli
KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 14 - Barisan Nasional's (BN) decision to become more aggressive in its campaign for the Kuala Terengganu seat just four days before the polling day has begun to attract attention, but Pakatan Rakyat (PR) officials described it as a sign the ruling coalition was trailing in the race. New posters with the words 'Pas Kluk Klek' have been put up across town here, in an effort to label the PR component member a 'flip-flop' party.
BN election director Datuk Seri Najib Razak had kicked off the more aggressive campaign on Monday night by saying Pas was a party which changed its colours to suit the politics of the day, in an indication that its original tagline of Cakna Rakyat, which means to care for the people, had failed to fire up the imagination of voters here. According to an Umno official, the new campaign theme has always been part of the plan, and he denied the change meant the party has failed in convincing the Kuala Terengganu voters. 'We have already planned to only be offensive in the last four days before polling,' he told The Malaysian Insider.
Pas research centre head Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad said BN's original Cakna Rakyat theme Mesra Rakyat was a mistake in the first place, as BN was later forced to defend the character of its candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Salleh, who was accused of being arrogant by his critics.
'You can see on the billboards, posters of the candidate and the Menteri Besar, to show how close they are to the people. They were forced to do it because of the perception on Wan Farid,' said the Kuala Selangor MP. 'Maybe they realize that they are trailing, they believe they need another tagline, but this time it is not about their strength or the candidate's,' said Dzulkifli. But he said that demonizing Pas would not work. 'Whether the method is going to work or not, they are taking a very big risk. Obviously they are targeting the Malay voters, as we have covered the Chinese voters,' he told The Malaysian Insider.
PKR strategist Saifuddin Nasution said the changing of message shows that something was not right in BN's campaign. 'We are already in the second half, and Pas is still consistent with the message of change, so the issue of Pas being a flip-flop party does not arise. The party is much clearer and organized in planning for the election,' Said the Machang MP.
Even before the campaigning period started, Pas leaders had started attacking BN for its failure to fairly distribute wealth from the oil royalty and for extravagant projects such as the annual Monsoon Cup yachting race and the construction of the multi-million ringgit Crystal Mosque and the Islamic Civilizational Park. 'In any campaign when you are forced to be defensive it shows that you are in trouble,' Saifuddin told The Malaysian Insider.