KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the smear campaign against PKR’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim in the Hulu Selangor by-election cannot be avoided.
“In English they say all is fair in love and war and in election,” he said when asked if it was right for Barisan Nasional (BN) to exploit Zaid’s past drinking habit in the campaign for the rural constituncy.
“I was subjected to many allegations too. Some people said I have a Chinese wife, that I have a wife in Singapore,” said Dr Mahathir who led the ruling coalition until his retirement in late 2003.
The former prime minister however was unsure if the tactic would help BN in recapturing the seat that it lost in Election 2008 by a slim majority of 198 votes.
“Maybe, maybe not,” he said when asked whether the smear campaign would benefit BN.
The BN campaigners in the April 25 by-election have called on voters to reject Zaid because of his habit.
At an Umno Youth-organised public rally last weekend, the party speakers accused the former Kota Baru MP of having a mini bar at home and drinks regularly despite party vice-president Datuk Hishammddin Hussein’s attempt to distance the party from the smear campaign.
Pictures, believed to have been doctored, of Zaid drinking have also made their appearance in Malay-majority areas in the rural federal constituency.
The former law minister had admitted to consuming alcohol in the past but said he had repented and hoped that all parties will focus on major national issues.
In retaliation, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters have started publishing pictures on the Internet, of what they claimed to be of Umno leaders, Hishammuddin and Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin with alcoholic drinks.
The personal attacks from both sides appear to be an attempt to win the Malay votes, which will decide the outcome of this election.
This Friday PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat will speak at a rally in the constituency to win the Malay votes which form more than half of the 64,500 Hulu Selangor voters.