KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 (Bernama) -- The MCA and MIC, the two largest Barisan Naional (BN) component parties representing the Chinese and Indians, have stepped up their defence as well as attacks on claims that they have let down their communities.
"While the opposition put on a show, MCA worked," said an MCA advertisement in an Englih daily today while MIC's stressed that voting for the opposition is equivalent to a "vote for sweet talk".
Transparency International (Malaysia) (TI-Malaysia) said the media ads to woo voters had increase in the past few days, and the Barisan Nasional (BN) was estimated to have spent over RM1.049 million.
MCA has taken out ads in newspapers and televisions in the run-up to the March 8 general election, emphasising its "behind-the-scene" efforts to help the Chinese community.
The party said 2,300 non-Bumiputera students obtained full Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships to study overseas between 2000 and 2007, a marked increase compared with only 100 students before 2000.
"An increase of 2,200 percent in JPA scholarship funds amounting to more than RM1 billion," the party said, stressing its motto of "Working quietly, effectively for results".
In the ad, MCA said it was just one of the many areas the party has been working hard and would continue to do so for the future of all Malaysians in business, education, socio-cultural areas and women's welfare.
The opposition, in the election campaigning, accused both MCA and MIC of not fighting for the rights of the non-bumiputeras.
MCA's move was emulated by the MIC which has been besieged lately by supporters of the unregistered Hindraf who claimed that the party has not done much to help the Indian community.
"Every Indian who has benefited directly or indirectly from MIC is a silent majority and a silent supporter who has assisted MIC to rise and evolve to where it is today. Can anyone come up and say that MIC is irrelevant or redundant," said the ad.
The ad said if the Indian community did not vote for MIC, they would deprive their children the right to preserve and uphold Tamil, Hinduism and the right to seek education.
"Vote for PAS and see where Kelantan is today. That's how your constituency will be for the next five years, If you think that you are not progressing under MIC, then you can now imagine getting disintegrated under PAS," the ad said.
Besides monitoring political parties' print media ad expenditures in 18 newspapers daily, TI-Malaysia said in a statement today that it has started to monitor the television ads today.
It said under the Election Offences Act 1954 parliamentary candidates were allowed to spend up to RM200,000 and state seat contenders RM100,000.
BN candidates can collectively spend up to only RM94.8 million, it said.
Of this, 1.11 percent had been spent on print media ads thus far, TI-Malaysia said, adding that candidates from Parti Keadilan Rakyat, DAP and PAS had not taken up any ads so far.
"This is the first time that campaign expenses are being monitored. This is a new addition to election process and media monitoring that was started from previous elections and is being performed now," it said.
Battle For 214 Parliamentary, 501 State Seats In Polls
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 (Bernama) -- The March 8 polls will see contests for 214 parliamentary and 501 state seats, the Election Commission (EC) announced today, as the pace of campaigning intensified further for the Barisan Nasional (BN) and opposition parties.
With the withdrawal period over at midnight yesterday, the BN picked up an eighth parliamentary and a third state seat uncontested with PAS securing one state seat unchallenged.
The lobbying for votes will step up from tomorrow going into the only weekend break in the 13-day campaign period, which is five days longer than the 2004 polls.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi heads for Kelantan tomorrow, where the BN is mounting another challenge to wrest the state from PAS after 18 years, and will visit Terengganu on Saturday to lend weight to the BN machinery out to thwart the ambitions of a bitter PAS that lost its grip on the state in 2004.
Abdullah today criticised PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang for issuing a "fatwa" (religious decree) permitting PAS candidates to indulge in "character assassination" of their opponents.
"I'm puzzled that the president of an Islamic party could come up with such a fatwa. This is prohibited by our religion," he said in Kepala Batas.
BN top guns were canvassing up north today in the Malay heartland of Kedah and mainland Penang, to strengthen fences against PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
Abdullah visited public housing for the poor in Penaga and repaired dilapidated homes in rural kampungs of Lahar Minyak, Teluk Manan, Permatang Bendahari, Pulau Mertajam, Permatang Pak Maras and Permatang Tinggi Bakar Bata in his Kepala Batas parliamentary constituency.
Speaking on a subject close to his heart, Abdullah said: "Efforts to eradicate poverty have to be done in earnest so that they too can enjoy better lives. We aim to wipe out hardcore poverty in the country completely by 2010."
He said the government had allocated RM590 million under the current Ninth Malaysia Plan to help the hardcore poor.
Najib, who is also Defence Minister, also visited Penang and Kedah.
He spent the morning at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Telok Air Tawar in Butterworth, assuring the military that their welfare was well taken cared by the government, which revised their salaries up by nine to 42 per cent last year and was building more living quarters for them.
He visited two more two Felda settlements, Teloi Timur in Sik and Sungai Tiang in Pendang, and unveiled an RM40 million project to build low and medium cost homes for youths and new settlers costing between RM35,000 and RM65,000 a unit.
For a start, Felda will build 1,200 units of low and medium cost houses in four areas at Jengka 11 in Jengka (200 units), Felda Triang 3 in Mempagar (300 units), Felda Neram 1 in Terengganu (300 units) and another 400 units in Felda.
MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, contesting for the first time in Kulai, assured the people there that the parliamentary constituency was poised for an economic boom as it came under the Iskandar Development Region (IDR).
Ong said if elected, he would work on churning out more employment in Kulai so that youths don't have to leave for jobs in Singapore, and pay extra attention to developing new villages there which are mostly populated by the Chinese.
MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who has been heckled in some of his rounds, said he was pleased with the huge support from the Indian voters for BN candidates despite attempts by the opposition to use the community as a political tool.
"Although the Opposition tried to create disturbances, we managed to meet thousands of voters in all the places we went," he said while visiting Pasir Panjang in Perak where MIC's Dr S. Vasan is facing PAS' Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin in the state seat fight.
In Sarawak where the BN has won five parliamentary seats uncontested, component party, Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Seri Awang Tengah Ali Hassan refuted claims by PKR state chairman Dominique Ng that the BN was offering money to PKR and independent candidates to withdraw.
"The BN does not have to use dirty tactics like this because it will win in this election," said Awang Tengah, who was in Sibu to attract Bumiputera support for Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew and Datuk Tiong Thai King, the BN's candidates for the Sibu and Lanang parliamentary seats respectively.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang made his rounds in Perak today where he will be defending the Ipoh Barat parliamentary seat while PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was in Kuala Lumpur where he is supporting his daugther's debut for the Lembah Pantai parliamentary seat.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, who was in Sabah to check on preparations for the polls, said 2,971 permits for ''ceramahs'' were approved throughout the country as of last night and 65,000 police personnel had been mobilised for the election period.