Anwar takes high road, Ummi aims low

By Yow Hong Chieh, The Malaysian Insider

KERDAU, March 4 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim showed his class in the face of Ummi Hafilda Ali’s attacks during concurrent talks in Rumpun Makmur here last night.

The two speakers locked horns in a battle for votes across a distance of less than 20m as campaigning ramps up ahead of polling this weekend.

Ignoring personal attacks that at times bordered on shrill, Anwar focused on driving home Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) message of change to the rapt crowd of over 700 Felda and Felcra settlers.

The PKR de facto leader was in form as he spoke of alleged Umno corruption and cronyism, weaving in references to the decades-long abuse of power that ignited popular revolts in Egypt and Tunisia.

He also touched briefly on the economic strategy outlined in PR’s Orange Book and repeated his promise to lower petrol prices after taking Putrajaya to cheers from the audience.

But Anwar did at times hit back at Ummi Hafilda in light-hearted fashion when her repeated insults and calls to repent, amplified by four-foot tall speakers, threatened to disrupt his talk.

“We only trouble ourselves when we pay heed to crazies,” he joked when a barb from Ummi Hafilda drew jeers from PR supporters.

“If we give her attention, her fee will only go up.”

Ummi Hafilda, on the other hand, barely paused for breath during her 80-minute verbal barrage which began even before Anwar arrived on scene.

She started by recounting a laundry list of Anwar’s “sins” and the trials she faced for trying to expose the then-deputy prime minister’s alleged misdoings.

But her coherent account quickly descended into a pastiche of Umno staples — the prospect of DAP rule and the “Allah” issue — once Anwar made his appearance.

It became clear that Ummi Hafilda was more keen on sabotaging Anwar’s talk than making her case when she began pausing often to listen to what he was saying so she could tailor retorts.