Three confirmed in race

Abdul Wahid Endut (Pas), Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Salleh (BN) and Azharuddin Mamat (Independent) will be fighting it out at the KT by-election. – Photo by Choo Choy May

By Debra Chong and Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

It's official – a three-way fight between BN's Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Salleh, Abdul Wahid Endut of Pas and independent Azharuddin Mamat. There were four objections but all were rejected when the one-hour period ended at 11am today.

With that, the campaigning is on for the crucial Kuala Terengganu by-election that will decide the future of both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

For BN, this election is a must win to prove that the party has recovered from the March 8 political tsunami while PR has to show that it has not lost the momentum it has gained and that the alliance is still intact, while winning the hearts and minds of the Malay voters.

BN's Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Salleh, clad in a blue baju Melayu, arrived at the nomination centre with deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak accompanied by other party leaders as soon as the returning officer Datuk Mat Razali Kassim announced the opening of the nomination period at 9am.

They had marched for about 200m from the Menteri Besar's official residence, the Sri Iman, accompanied by thousands of supporters.

Wakaf Mempelam assemblyman Abdul Wahid Endut, whose selection as Pas's candidate took nearly everyone by surprise, arrived at the state indoor stadium with an entourage almost equal in size to the BN's.

The Kuala Terengganu Pas chief walked into the nomination centre at 9.15am accompanied by party president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang and state party chief Datuk Mustafa Ali.

BN supporters were allowed to group directly in front of the stadium while the PR group is being held back behind metal gates some 50 metres to the rear. The PR side have swarmed up like a tsunami.

While the BN side continues to sing old patriotic songs, the PR side are hoisting up giant Pas moon flags while chanting spiritedly: “Reformasi! Hidup Hidup Hidup Keadilan! Allahu Akbar! Undur BN!”

In a sign of solidarity, DAP leaders Ronnie Liu and Tan Kok Wai set aside their differences with the Islamist party over the controversial Hudud issue, by marching together with Abdul Wahid to the nomination centre together with PKR vice president Azmin Ali and information chief Tian Chua.

A third candidate has entered the fray – independent Azharuddin Mamat, 46, from KT.

However, it looks likely to be a straight fight between BN and Pas because the proposers and seconders for the other candidate have registered addresses that are not within the constituency.

A fourth aspiring candidate, Harun Abdul Rahman Mohamad , the Terengganu Akim chief, had arrived at the centre but left without filing his papers. Apparently, he had a change of heart about contesting.

While waiting for the clock to count down, on the street outside, both BN and PR supporters are beating out their war tattoo on the kompang.

The BN voices are still singing the same "Pahlawan" song while PR supporters have taken to singing "Chan Mali Chan" in addition to their chanting. Now their war cries have escalated to "BN tumbang" and "BN Hancur".

Terengganu state police chief Datuk Mohd Shukir Dahlan told the press that nobody has been arrested yet although police had to push back some 400 people from a restricted area in the district clinic compound.

Minutes later, another small crowd of PR supporters broke back into the clinic compound prompting FRU staff to enter the fray.

Meanwhile, the number of PR supporters are now backed up all the way to the Batu Bersurat roundabout, some 2km away.

As it is, the crowd is packed shoulder to shoulder, two lanes wide and spilling over onto the sidewalks.

Latest estimates from police place crowd numbers from both sides at a total of 25,000.