KUALA LUMPUR, March 14 — Malasianinsider
The Barisan Nasional has picked local boy Ismail Safian to contest the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat that fell vacant after Pas MP Roslan Shaharum died early last month.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced Ismail's candidature in Taiping this morning. Nomination day for the by-election is on March 29 together with by-elections for the Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah and Batang Ai in Sarawak. Polling day is April 7 for all three seats.
The 49-year-old businessman was a former Bukit Gantang Umno information chief and once served as secretary to the Kerian District Council and Manjung District Council. A local from Kampung Kubu, Bukit Gantang, he was the human resources and management services director of the National Solid Waste Management and Public Cleaning Corporation.
The Bukit Gantang Umno division had submitted three names to Najib but it was learnt that most of them supported Ismail for the seat.
Najib, who is Perak Umno chief, also said that among the main criteria was that the candidate should be acceptable to the division. There was also a precondition that Ismail would not contest in the next divisional elections, he added, reflecting the horse-trading within the division.
In the divisional elections last year, Ismail lost to Trong assemblyman Datuk Rosli Husin in the contest for the post of Bukit Gantang Umno division chief.
In Election 2008, Barisan Nasional fielded Umno treasurer and Bukit Bintang division chief Datuk Seri Azim Zabidi in the Umno stronghold but he lost narrowly to Roslan by 1,566 votes. The Malay-majority seat also has 27 per cent Chinese and 10 per cent Indian voters.
Roslan, who died of a heart attack on Feb 9, was the human resource director of Perak Economic Development Corporation before Pas nominated him for the seat. He was also appointed the chairperson of Perak’s education foundation, Yayasan Perak, in July 2008.
Bukit Gantang also includes the Changkat Jering state seat, which was won by PKR's Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu who has quit PKR to turn independent and support Barisan Nasional. His defection with two others toppled the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak.
The Pakatan Rakyat is turning the Bukit Gantang by-election into a referendum over Barisan Nasional's takeover of the Perak government, which is now subject to a string of lawsuits in both Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur.
Both sides claim to be the legitimate government although the Perak Ruler has endorsed Barisan Nasional.
Pas is under pressure to name its ousted Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin for the seat. He has become popular after standing his ground against Sultan Azlan Shah who commanded him to resign which he refused.
Pas spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat is against Nizar's candidacy but his wish for Mohamed Sabu for the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election was ignored, leading to speculation that Nizar could have a chance as Pas would like to capitalise on the current disaffection against Barisan Nasional.
Barisan Nasional now holds 137 seats in the 222-seat Parliament, with Pakatan Rakyat keeping 81 with three independents.