News Reporting study
The following is an example of a good concise reporting.
As expected - such reporting contains some common charasteristics:
Our Newskini system should be such that it can be trained to learn
from such reporting.
Abdullah's Reign at Risk as Malaysian Islamists Stress Poverty
By Soraya Permatasari and En-Lai Yeoh
March 5 (Bloomberg) -- In the northeastern Malaysian state he oversees, Nik Aziz Nik Mat banned nightclubs and pool halls on the grounds they violate Islamic law.
Now that his party is contesting national elections, he promises a different fight: against poverty and corruption.
Nik Aziz, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party's spiritual leader and chief minister of Kelantan state, and other party leaders are avoiding religious rhetoric as they campaign for national and state elections March 8. PAS, as the party is known, may be the biggest threat to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's governing coalition.
``PAS has no choice but to tone down its Islamic hard-line stance,'' said Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, a political analyst at Universiti Malaya. ``They realize they have to show the public, quite seriously, that they are accepting the importance of pluralism in the country.''
Abdullah's multiparty, multi-ethnic National Front coalition already faces declining support from Chinese and Indian minorities upset by the country's legalized pro-Malay preference system.
Should he also lose too much support from ethnic Malays, Abdullah's United Malays National Organisation party might dump him, even though the coalition is unlikely to lose power.
``Abdullah will not be seen as a credible leader'' if Malay support drops off substantially, said Mohamed Mustafa Ishak, international studies dean at Universiti Utara Malaysia.
The National Front won more than 90 percent of the parliament's 219 seats in 2004 and has had a two-thirds majority for more than 30 years. The ruling coalition also won 453 of 505 state seats contested in the elections.
PAS won six parliamentary seats and took 36 state seats in 2004, most of them in Kelantan, the only Malaysian state ruled by the opposition. A strong PAS showing would increase pressure on the national government to do more for Malaysia's poor.
Approval for Abdullah, 68, among Malays fell to 76 percent in December, from 84 percent in October, according to a survey by the Merdeka Center, an independent Malaysian research group.
Awang Adek, who as UMNO nominee for Kelantan chief minister is seeking to oust Nik Aziz, said Abdullah isn't threatened.
``The momentum is on our side,'' he said.
PAS has two new advantages in this campaign. Nik Aziz, 77, has allied with former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, a well-known moderate Islamist who spent the last election in prison. And Abdullah's predecessor, Mahathir Mohamad, is serving the interests of PAS, even though he opposes it, by calling for UMNO to replace the prime minister.
Malaysia's constitution defines all Malays as Muslims. PAS's biggest base of support is in Kelantan, where about 90 percent of the state's 1.5 million people are Malays, compared with 60 percent of the country's total population of 27 million.
PAS is trying to redefine itself after years of advocating strict adherence to Islamic law. The party is running its first non-Muslim candidate, a Hindu woman, for a seat in the southern state of Johor. It also has dropped a ban on pop concerts in Kelantan it introduced in 1991.
``There is no more talk like before of PAS being like the Taliban,'' Nik Aziz told reporters in Kelantan's capital, Kota Bharu, on March 4.
Anwar, 60, has played a key role in moderating PAS's stance and rallying opposition to the government.
``Anwar has managed to narrow the gap between non-Muslims and staunch PAS supporters with his moderate, multiracial approach,'' said Ibrahim Suffian, director of the Merdeka Center, an independent Malaysian research group.
Finance minister under Mahathir until he was fired in 1998, Anwar was later found guilty of having homosexual relations and of trying to cover up that alleged crime -- allegations he denied. The sex charge was overturned in 2004.
To increase the opposition's chances, Anwar's People's Justice Party, PAS and the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party have agreed not to compete with each other in voting districts in mainland Malaysia.
The party, running on the slogan ``PAS For All,'' has dropped a previous goal of turning Malaysia into an Islamic state. Its manifesto promises free education, health services, low-cost housing, cheaper fuel and a minimum wage.
That message especially resonates in Kelantan. The state is Malaysia's third-poorest. The poverty rate was 11 percent in 2004, compared with 5.7 percent for the whole country that year.
PAS has gotten assistance in making its case from Mahathir, Abdullah's predecessor, who argues that corruption is increasing and calls for UMNO to replace the prime minister with Deputy Premier Najib Razak. Malaysia slipped to 43rd in Berlin-based Transparency International's 2007 Corruption Perceptions Index from 39th in 2004, when Abdullah won his landslide.
Abdullah counters that corruption prosecutions doubled to 1,317 in 2006 from 663 cases in 2001.
Corruption is a concern for retired civil servant Ahmad Othman, who runs a small palm oil farm in Kelantan. Folding his prayer mat after a two-hour weekly sermon by Nik Aziz, Ahmad said he'll switch to PAS from UMNO at this election.
``Not once have I seen corruption in Kelantan,'' he said.