Wednesday, July 1, 2009


By : Lee Weng Keat

MCA deputy president Dr Chua Soi Lek recently suggested that, if Pakatan Rakyat seizes control of the federal government, then Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat of PAS would be the most eligible person for the post of prime minister.

Chua's view was based on the PAS spiritual leader's experience of running the Kelantan government as menteri besar for nearly two decades.

Of course, Chua's intention was to mock other Pakatan leaders, namely Anwar Ibrahim, and to strike fear in the hearts of some 800 Chinese Malaysians who turned up for the Monday night forum in Johor.

However, he must have been a little stunned when one member of the audience expressed whole-hearted agreement with the idea, claiming that Nik Aziz is an incorruptible leader who rejects racism.

He then took a swipe at Chua over his undelivered promises during his tenure as health minister, leading the audience to jeer at the MCA leader.

Another speaker, Johor opposition leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau from DAP, praised Nik Aziz for his stand on various national issues such as rejecting the PAS-Umno unity talks.

Speaking to Malaysiakini later, a member of the audience noted that displays of open admiration for a PAS leader by the Chinese are rare, especially in Johor which is seen as a Barisan Nasional fortress. "This indicates that the Johor Chinese community is beginning to look for change. They are willing to listen to PAS now," he said.

Nik Aziz's image had received a boost of late. Previously, he was seen as an ultra-conservative Muslim leader who was against women's rights.This perception was based on his directives in Kelantan pertaining to women's attire and conduct.

However, after he came out strongly against the Umno-PAS unity talks, he managed to win the hearts of opposition supporters as well as non-Malays who want the two-party system to continue.

Malaysian Gus Dur ?

Prominent Chinese political scholar Phoon Wing Keong said that, while he still thinks that Anwar is the most suitable candidate for prime minister, Nik Aziz could play a conciliatory role during the transition period.

"If the situation arises, Nik Aziz can be the Pakatan PM with a role similar to that of former Indonesian (president) Gus Dur (Abdurrahman Wahid),” he added.

Political observer Tang Ah Chai agreed that Nik Aziz's firm stand on the unity talks issue has catapulted him to being the favourite PAS politician.

"It created a positive impression among non-Malays and crafted a fresh look for him,” he said.

Tang said the PAS-Umno talks had left the Chinese community worried, as they feared it would accelerate the Islamisation process and pave the way for more Malay-centric policies.

"Many were surprised that Nik Aziz was against the talks," he noted.

Meanwhile, Phoon pointed out that the Islamic leader's political stand has met the Chinese community's expectations of a 'wise man'.

"Nik Aziz refused to be Umno’s ally and defended the interests of non-Malays. He is not tempted by short-term benefits. He is a fearless wise man," he added.

Nik Aziz also scored top marks for defending Pakatan leaders Elizabeth Wong and Nga Kor Ming.

When nude photographs of Wong were leaked, the PAS leader had described it as a personal matter and even met her when she resumed her duties as Selangor exco.

He was also quick to defend Nga when the latter drew flak for reciting Quranic verses during an election ceramah.

In fact, he even invited Nga to recite the verses again during a gathering at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.


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