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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Local boy set to be PKR candidate for Bkt Selambau

KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 - By Baradan Kuppusamy - malaysianinsider

The keenly-contested race to be picked the PKR candidate for the Bukit Selambau by-election, with at least a dozen aspirants offering themselves, is nearing the end.

PKR supremo Datuk Ser Anwar Ibrahim is expected to announce the candidate on Thursday and the choice is expected to be a pleasant surprise, PKR insiders said.

Although the race had narrowed down to three in the final list, they expect Anwar to pick a young, political novice instead of several PKR Indian veterans who although are more familiar, but are tainted by various controversies and scandals.

"The candidate is young, Indian, has a double degree from a local university, is clean and a successful businessman," said a top PKR leader, while declining to name the candidate.

Other PKR sources said one aspirant that fits the bill is S. Manikumar, 35, a UM graduate with an MBA from the same university.

Married with one child, Manikumar is a consultant to the Southern Thailand Group of Companies and has business interests in quarrying and a consultancy.

His wife is also a graduate and both are locals and had early involvement in the Makkal Sakti movement, giving them the right credentials for Indian voters in the Bukit Selambau by-election on April 7.

Others who had figured in the race includes S. Masilamani, Dr Krishna Murthi and P. Sreetheran all Kedah PKR leaders.

"Manikumar is young, intelligent and motivated," said another PKR leader. "He is the right person for the times."

If PKR wins, the candidate will get to be an executive council member in the PAS dominated Kedah state government.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) has announced Kedah MIC deputy chairman and former Lunas assemblyman Datuk S. Ganesan will be their candidate.

Several independents, attracted by the exco post, are also contesting, making the by-election a multi-cornered contest which could split the votes.

About 50 per cent of the voters are Malays followed by Indians and Chinese.

Ganesan joined MIC in 1983 and was appointed the state deputy MIC chairman in 2002.

He contested and won the Lunas state seat in the 2004 general election. He was dropped in the 2008 election.

The Bukit Selambau by-election will be held simultaneously with the Bukit Gantang parliamentary vote and the Batang Ai state elections on April 7.

Nomination day for the three by-elections is on March 29.

So far, the BN is handicapped by the insistence of MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in leading the campaign, although he has lost the support of the Indian community.

Umno has told Samy Vellu to drop out of sight and not campaign in Bukit Selambau but the veteran MIC president is campaigning there nearly everyday hoping to turn the tide against him.

The BN fears the daily appearance of Samy Vellu will alienate Indian voters but the veteran has told UMNO leaders he is testing out the re-branding of the MIC and hopes to regain support.

"We just don't know what to do with him," said a senior Kedah Umno leader on condition of anonymity. "He insists on campaigning and even tells us to mind our own business."

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