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Saturday, May 23, 2009

PKR faces 3 for Penanti

PENANTI, May 23 — By Lee Wei Lian and Syed Jaymal Zahiid | malaysianinsider

Parti KeAdilan Rakyat's (PKR) Dr Mansor Othman will face three independents in the Penanti by-election this May 31 after one was disqualified.

The Barisan Nasional has opted out of the by-election in Penanti, within PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's Permatang Pauh political fortress, calling it an abuse of the electoral process.

Mansor and the four independents, Aminah Abdullah, Mohd Saberi Osman, Nai Khan Ari and Kamarul Ramizu Idris, filed their nomination papers at the youth skills complex in Bukit Mertajam this morning.

Returning officer Roslan Yahaya declared all eligible except for Saberi after the objection period ended at 11am. There were six objections against him. Roslan did not disclose the reason why Saberi was disqualified.

According to PKR vice-president R. Sivarasa, PKR's objection that Saberi was a bankrupt was accepted by the Election Commission and that was the reason the independent hopeful was not allowed to contest.

With Barisan Nasional out of the picture, PKR took premium space in Penanti as supporters and flags crowded the road to the nomination centre.

Mansor was accompanied by Pakatan Rakyat leaders as he made his way to the nomination centre just before 8am.

Among the Pakatan leaders who arrived later to join Mansor was Anwar, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, ousted Pakatan Rakyat Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and Azmin Ali.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his father, DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang, were among those outside the nomination centre.

"At Penanti, no electricity in the air without BN," Kit Siang posted in his Twitter account.

Police presence was limited to 150 personnel, who blocked the road to the nomination centre.

About 50 makeshift stalls lined the road hoping for a windfall from the by-election called when incumbent Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin quit the seat on April 16, just over a week after resigning as Penang deputy chief minister I following graft allegations.

The double master’s politician has been cleared of the allegations and has said he will pursue further studies.

Mansor is expected to win the seat and replace Fairus as DCM I despite the four-cornered fight in Penanti.

“If I win, I will be made deputy chief minister of Penang, and that means a lot to the people of Penanti and Penang,” Mansor said.

This is the sixth by-election since Election 2008. Barisan Nasional has not won in any of the four previous by-elections in Peninsular Malaysia, only winning in Batang Ai in Sarawak.

Another by-election will be held in the rural Kelantan state seat of Manek Urai after its five-term assemblyman Ismail Yaacob from PAS died yesterday.

There were calls within Barisan Nasional to run in the Penanti by-election but coalition chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is prime minister, decided with coalition leaders on May 18 to sit out.

The last time Barisan Nasional sat out of a by-election was in 1974, a decision taken by Najib's father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein when a court ruled a vacancy in a DAP-held seat.

Independent candidate Aminah told reporters outside the nomination centre that she was contesting for justice and truth and that she left PKR because “it has lost its way”.

The ex-leader of Penang PKR Wanita arrived with eight family members as supporters.

Former Gerakan member Nai Khan, 41, resigned from the party to run for the seat, saying he was disappointed that BN is not contesting.

The ethnic Siamese from Penanti told reporters at the nomination centre that he feels he can represent all communities.

Saberi turned up at the nomination centre before 9am, accompanied by 20 supporters.

He simply shouted "Hidup Bebas" as he entered the complex.

Kamarul, who came in his trade-mark black outfit, had contested in the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election last month but received only 62 votes.

The four who will contest the Penanti by-election (from left) — independent Kamarul Ramizu Idris, PKR’s Dr Mansor Othman, and independents Nai Khan Ari and Aminah Abdullah. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Unperturbed by his previous performance, Kamarul told reporters: “I want to establish a new party – Parti Iman Semalaysia – which practises sincere politics. I am self financed with no sponsors.”

When contacted, Saberi said he was disqualified due to a problem with his guarantor.

The 2008 electoral roll that was updated April 16 records 15,384 registered voters with 24 postal voters.

The electorate comprises 72.68 per cent Malays, 24.22 per cent Chinese, 2.39 per cent Indians and 0.71 per cent others.

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