"Reformasi Menegak keADILan"

Keadilan apologises to DAP

4.30pm, WED: Keadilan's top leadership has taken the initiative to make amends with its ally, DAP, by tendering a public apology today for the friction during recent negotiations in the four-member coalition which resulted in an acrimonious exchange regarding the Barisan Alternatif candidacy. In a press statement to malaysiakini today, Keadilan deputy president Chandra Muzaffar said that "it is in a spirit of brotherhood that I apologise to the DAP leaders for whatever hurt or injury that individuals in other BA parties may have caused them".

"It is a comrade bonded to the DAP leaders in a common struggle for justice and democracy, a noble struggle that the DAP has been involved in for more than three decades ... that I invite them to join us in the battle for Lunas," he added. Chandra said that Keadilan is confident that BA will survive attempts by a segment of the government controlled media to spilt it. He added that the relations between Keadilan and DAP, in particular, have been cemented through "shared beliefs, mutual trust and abiding personal friendships which have withstood the stress and strain of time".

The crisis between the parties erupted when Keadilan vice-president Tian Chua was reported in The Star on Nov 20 to have accused DAP chairman Lim Kit Siang of "putting party interest above that of the people" in the DAP-Keadilan tussle to field their own candidate for Lunas, with DAP proposing businessman S Neelamekan from Prai.


Amicable relations

Yesterday, The Star quoted Neelamekan as saying that Chua is "a political child compared to Lim and that he (Chua) should apologise to Lim and DAP", to which Chua had said he felt sorry for his actions but that his comments were directed not at Lim but the BA leadership as a whole (It is not personal: Tian Chua, Nov 21).

Chandra said that the BA candidate for Lunas, Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, is one of the few BA leaders from Kedah acceptable to all communities in Lunas.

"In the last general elections, Saifuddin polled substantial votes from all three communities in the Lunas state seat within the Padang Serai parliamentary constituency," he said.

"It is because of this multi-ethnic support and orientation, apart from his strong Malay base, that Saifuddin was chosen as the BA flag-bearer," he added.

Chandra said that although the DAP leadership had a different view of who should contest in Lunas, the negotiations among the four BA parties, including PAS and PRM, were conducted in an amicable, congenial atmosphere.

He stressed that Lim has played a pivotal role in sustaining the BA, adding: "Without his statesmanship, magnanimity and sacrifice, the BA would not have held together for the last 20 months."

The crisis within BA worsened when Lim was falsely quoted in a Bernama report as saying in Lunas on Saturday that the DAP candidate has been decided for the Lunas by-election ('Bernama' to apologise for 'mistake', Nov 20).


Three candidates

Lim clarified that he wasn't in Lunas at all that day and accused the national news agency of concocting the report. Bernama has since admitted that the report was an "unintentional mistake" and said it will apologise to Lim.

The other candidates for Lunas are S Anthonysamy, of MIC, from Barisan Nasional and independent candidate N Letchumanan, who runs a transport company.

Anthonysamy is a lawyer and former Kedah MIC secretary, and Letchumanan, formerly from MIC, had also contested the same seat during the general elections last year, receiving only 87 votes.

The seat fell vacant after the murder of the BN candidate Dr Joe Fernandez who won the seat in 1999 with 9,760 votes, defeating BA's M Kathiravelo, from DAP, who received 5,060 votes while another independent candidate, Ibrahim Md Rashidi, garnered 2,158 votes.