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Sunday, December 28, 2008

> Hadi confident Chinese will vote PAS

Abdul Hadi Awang is confident that Chinese voters will swing behind the party in next month’s Kuala Terengganu by-election as they had previously benefitted from four years of PAS rule.

"When I was menteri besar (of Terengganu), we remove the assessment rates for property owners. However, when Umno came back to power, it brought back the assessment rates," said the PAS president.

"From feedback that we got, the Chinese voters do not like this and we hope this will translate into votes for PAS in the by-election," he told reporters after launching the ‘Jom sertai PAS’ (Let's join PAS) campaign at Dataran Shah Alam this afternoon.

Also present at the event was Selangor executive councillor Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud and PAS vice-president Ahmad Awang.

Hadi also pointed out that Umno founder Onn Jaafar had contested in Kuala Terengganu after he left the ruling party.

"Do you know Onn Jaafar (left) won in Kuala Terengganu as an opposition candidate? He did not get the support from Umno and he did not contest in Johor (his home state).

"Nevertheless, the people of Kuala Terengganu elected him to represent them in Parliament. This time around, we are confident that voters in Kuala Terengganu would support us," Hadi said.

To a question on what changes PAS would it bring to the people of Kuala Terengganu if it was elected, Hadi acknowledged that the party’s resources were limited as it no longer rule Terengganu.

"But we hope the voters would send a clear message - that they reject Barisan Nasional and Umno," he said.

Yet to make final decision on candidate

The PAS president however would not budge when pressed on who the party candidate would be for the by-election.

Asked whether popular Batu Burok state assemblyperson Dr Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi would be picked, Hadi told journalists to wait until Jan 1.

"I have given my word that I would make the announcement on Jan 1 and I would not go back on my word. I will announce my decision then and all of you will have to wait for that."

Hadi however revealed that he has yet to make the final decision on the matter.

"Party members have left it up to me," the PAS president said.

To questions on whether the "hudud issue" would hamper PAS election campaign, Hadi said Malaysians had misunderstood the issue.

"It is true Kelantan had tried to enact hudud in the 1990s and when I was (Terengganu) menteri besar, we tried to implement hudud.

"However, this could not be implemented because of the constitutional issue. Furthermore, hudud law is only applicable to Muslims, and non-Muslims are not subjected to hudud if they do not want to.

"There is a misconception that it is only PAS which wanted to implement hudud as this is the aspirations of all Muslims. However, it cannot be implemented if the people are still poor and unemployment is still around," he said.

Hadi added that unless those issues are resolved, the Islamic criminal code, which imposed harsh punishment for theft and other immoral activities, could not be implemented.

According to Hadi, PAS wants a just government which provide employment to the people as well as to root out poverty.

Manikavasagam should not betray his voters

Earlier in his speech, Hadi said the party was going stronger by the day.

"Never would I dream that there are 1,000 people joining PAS every month since the March 8 general elections.

“Similarly, the Kelab Penyokong PAS (PAS Supporters Club) has a membership of thousands of non-Muslims who support our vision and mission. Never would I dream this would happen to a party which was once nearly banned by the government," the PAS president said.

He said individuals such as Abu Zahar Hashim, the former Petaling Jaya Umno division leader, had decided to join PAS because he now has an appreciation for the struggles of the Islamic party.

On the issue of S Manikavasagam's threat of leaving PKR, Hadi said the Kapar parliamentarian would be betraying those who voted for the party if he made good his threat.

“It would not be right for him to leave the party as he contested on the PKR ticket," he said.

Yesterday, Umno and Barisan Nasional candidate Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh said he too was confident of getting the Chinese support in the crucial Jan 17 by-election - Malaysiakini.