Bukit Gantang By-election Is No Referendum

(Bernama) — MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the Bukit Gantang by-election would be no referendum for Barisan Nasional (BN) and new Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak as deemed by the opposition.

Instead, he said, this by-election would be an opportunity for the people to decide whether they wanted an elected representative who could offer plans and strategy to overcome the effects of the current economic downturn or a leader who could only prolong the political crisis in Perak through excessive politicking.

Speaking to reporters after the nomination process for the by-election, here today, Ong who is also Transport Minister, believed that voters in Bukit Gantang were wise enough to decide on their priority.

He said whether they were Chinese or non-Chinese, they would very much want local issues to be addressed by the government rather that to focus on matters raised by the opposition for the purpose of drawing sympathy.

Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, meanwhile, said the contest for the Bukit Gantang parlamentary seat would indeed be stiff as the voters had voted in the opposition candidate in the last general election.

"It is therefore important for BN to bring about change and draw up a constructive and effective campaign strategy to show to the people and voters that BN is sincere in representing their interest.

"If we are successful in bringing development to the people, then our chances in the next general election would be better.

"I believe the voters in Perak are mature enough to see what has been achieved by the previous DAP-PKR-PAS state government, and that they would be able to make the right choice on polling day," he said when met here.

Ong and Koh were among several BN leaders who accompanied the coalition's candidate, Ismail Saffian, to hand in his nomination papers today at the Taiping Municipal Council Hall, the nomination centre for the Bukit Gantang by-election.

The BN procession to the municipal council building was led by new Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, with new party vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Supreme Council member Datuk Mustafa Mohamad also in the group.

The other leaders included Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansur.

The by-election will see a three-cornered fight involving BN's Ismail, 49, PAS' Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, 52, and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

It is being held following the death of its member of parliament Roslan Shaharum from PAS on Feb 9 from heart attack.

In the last general election on March 8, 2008, Roslan defeated Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi from BN and independent candidate M. Mohganan with a 1,566-vote majority.