The Permatang Pasir question

(The Nut Graph) THE Permatang Pasir by-election on 25 Aug 2009 is a chance for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) to test what the public thinks of their cobbled partnership, post-March 2008 general election and following several significant developments.

Permatang Pasir, with its mixed voter ethnicity of 72% Malay Malaysian, 26% Chinese Malaysian and 1.6% Indian Malaysian, could indicate what people think about the PR's multiracial platform, its viability, and the very state of things in Malaysia.

In the 15 months since the PR captured five states, the reality is that the coalition today is tested from within and without. It has been thwarted by the Barisan Nasional (BN) in Perak, but component parties have also fought openly among themselves in Kedah, Selangor and Penang. Additionally, the PR's national leaders have sparred over PAS's proposed unity talks with Umno. Now, the PR has Selangor assemblypersons being probed for corruption, and a stalemate in Penang with the Kampung Buah Pala villagers. How will the PR campaign answer these issues in Permatang Pasir?

On the other side, the BN will have no shortage of ammunition. They can use race and Islam with the beer sales spat in Selangor to tell Malay Malaysian voters that PAS has sold its soul. With the same issue, they can tell non-Malay Malaysian voters the kind of assemblyperson they'll get if they vote for PAS. At the same time, efforts by Bahasa Malaysia newspaper Utusan Malaysia to depict Malay Malaysians as being under siege will likely flavour the BN's campaign.

Will voters fall for it?

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