The troublemakers of Port Dickson

Opinion  |  James Chai
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | I never thought I would hear Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan's name again, the man the late Karpal Singh branded a liar. In the Sodomy II trial, Karpal did not accept a single cent from Anwar Ibrahim as his defence lawyer because he believed that Saiful and the BN cohort behind him were orchestrating a grand conspiracy.

In the trial, Saiful contradicted himself multiple times, made numerous inconsistent statements, and had given rise to grave doubts against the prosecution’s allegations. Despite being a college dropout, Saiful could breeze through the then-deputy prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s house before the incident willy-nilly, and get in touch with the top police of the country with ease.

And now he's running against Anwar in Port Dickson.

The only other candidate of note is former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, whose tenure as Felda chairperson saw the company bleeding money at the expense of rural poor settlers.

The candidates standing against Anwar have two things in common. One, they are launching an anti-Anwar hate campaign targeting his character. Two, they are taking this by-election as an opportunity to obtain 14 days personal glory in the guise of democracy.

On the face of it, the seven-cornered fight could be seen as a celebration of democracy. But while democracy means defending your fellow citizen’s right to contest at the by-election, it doesn’t necessarily follow that you must support them.

This is because the opposition against Anwar in this particular by-election is fraught with the two elements: hatred and opportunism. All in the guise of “democracy.”

Undemocratic?

They say the whole by-election is undemocratic. They say that Anwar’s decision to contest in the Port Dickson by-election is undemocratic because voters are being betrayed. They say people did not vote Pakatan Harapan in to see this; that this was a severing the people’s trust.

But this argument is unsustainable. The democratic impulse is not forgone.

One, the people of Port Dickson are not deprived of the most fundamental democratic component: choice. Democracy is only ruined if incumbent Danyal Balagopal Abdullah switched places with Anwar without an election, and Anwar is appointed MP internally without the consent of the people. Here, there is an election, there is a choice.

Two, Danyal was not coerced into any arrangements beyond his preference. He stated many times his decision was voluntary...

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