Sunday, 25th April 2010
"BE-END" PROUD MOMENT - WHO IS THE REAL CANDIDATE, IS IT KAMALANATHAN OR ROSMAH?
Barisan Nasional’s (BN) P Kamalanathan has won a hard-fought Hulu Selangor by-election in what will be seen as a boost for Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s administration, but Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is expected to take heart from the close margin.
BN won today’s poll by just 1725 votes, recouping spoilt votes which contributed to its defeat in Election 2008, but failing to convincingly bury a strong PR.
Earlier today, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had set a target of winning by up to 6,000 votes as observers had noted that BN needed to win big after pulling out all the stops during the campaign to justify Najib’s personal involvement and its pork-barrelled spending.
The ruling coalition had thrown everything and the kitchen sink at the campaign in an attempt to to put it on track to recovery after a string of by-election defeats since Election 2008.
BN had lost in all by-elections in the peninsular since 2008, except for its stronghold of Bagan Pinang in Negri Sembilan, which it retained in a by-election last October.
In today’s vote, Kamalanathan obtained 24,997 votes while Zaid received 23,272.
The results suggest BN and PR are still neck and neck in the battle for support from Malaysians, particularly in the peninsular.
PKR blames poor turnout on BN intimidation and hanky-panky
PKR has expressed disappointment in the poor voter turnout for the crucial polls today and blames it on Barisan Nasional’s (BN) steady intimidation on voters and hanky-panky in the electoral roll.
Besides the “illegal” change of voting stations for 13,488 voters in the large constituency, PKR said they have also received more than 50 complaints from voters who claim their names were suddenly removed from the electoral roll.
“We are still tallying the number of complaints we have received but it is safe to say that there are more than 50 of them,” PKR election director Fuziah Salleh told The Malaysian Insider.
She added that the practice of intimidation by rowdy BN supporters and dubious campaign methods employed by the BN faction had also caused a large portion of the electorate to shy away from today’s crucial polling.
“We cannot say for certain why this is happening... We are still wondering why ourselves. However, we believe that this was largely due to the politics of intimidation used by them,” she said.
As at the close of today’s polls, a total of 48,935 voters out of the total 64,500 voters or 75.8 per cent have cast their ballots.
While today’s voting process concluded successfully without overly violent clashes, the small voter turnout despite the importance of the heavily-publicised by-election comes as a surprise.
PKR views the election as crucial for it badly needs to patch up its tattered image as a solid opposition party in view of the spate of damaging defections that rocked the party of late.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in the meantime has already labelled the by-election, the country’s tenth since Election 2008, as a referendum to his administration which has been embarking on a more liberalised stance.
The BN has pitched first-time candidate P. Kamalanathan against political heavyweight from PKR Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, who was formerly Umno’s Cabinet minister of law.
“According to our figures, the voter turnout in the Felda areas were a little less than 70 per cent. The Chinese that came out to vote were only about 75 per cent and for the Indian voters, the turnout in the estates were lower than those in the towns. For the Malays, only about 70 per cent turned out,” said Fuziah.
She pointed out that the PKR was suspicious of the method that the by-election was run, adding that in Serendah, the returning officers in three schools had refused to sign the Form 14 of the counting agents.
“By failing to sign, it means they can do anything they want with the forms and we cannot do anything to claim it was a fraud,” she said.
She added however that the PKR’s orders to all its counting agents was never to leave their posts until the forms were signed.
“We told them to lock themselves in the stations and never leave until the forms are signed. This is a matter of life and death,” she cautioned.
Meanwhile, early indication show that PKR may just have a chance to clinch the polls.
An observer told The Malaysian Insider that the poor voter turnout was largely due to the intimidating campaign style used by the BN to buy over support to their side.
“Maybe they are afraid to vote against the BN so they decided to take the goodies and stay away from the polls,” said the observer.
Former candidate V. S. Chandran told The Malaysian Insider that the BN would likely lose in areas like the Kerling polling district, Rasa and Kuala Kubu Bharu town.
“The sentiment in those areas are strong against the BN... people are unhappy with what happened before with our previous candidate,” he noted, in reference to MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel, who was the MP for Hulu Selangor for four terms since 1990.