Tri-Elections: We’re off (Update)

(The Star) (8:50am) Bkt Gantang: Barisan Nasional candidate Ismail Saffian arrives at SM Panglima Bukit Gantang to cast his vote, to resounding cheers from his supporters.

(8:20am) Bkt Selambau: Barisan Nasional candidate S. Ganesan casts his vote.

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional’s candidate for Bukit Selambau S. Ganesan is believed to have been the first politician to kick off the nation’s historic triple-play by-elections when he cast his ballot at SKJT Ladang Perbadanan at about 8:20am.

The three by-elections are being closely watched not only because of the heightened political scenario but also due to some “firsts” they created.

It was the first time three by-elections will be held in the country on the same day and the first time 15 candidates will fight for a seat.

Also, for the first time, a former mentri besar, who is still an assemblyman, is contesting a parliamentary seat in a by-election.

All in all, 20 candidates are contesting.

The Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah has a record number of 15 candidates — the highest ever in the country’s election history.

Barisan, under the fresh leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak which promises change under the 1Malaysia concept, has put a lot of pressure on its opponents, with even former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has just rejoined Umno, on the campaign trail.

The Opposition meanwhile believes that Malaysian voters are still supporting PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Voting starts at 8am and ends at 5pm. The results are expected in between 9pm and 11pm.

Bukit Gantang (P59)
The Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election will see a three-cornered fight between Barisan Nasional’s Ismail Saffian, 49, former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, 52, of PAS and independent Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

Malays make up 63.5% of the 55,562 voters in Bukit Gantang, followed by Chinese (27.1% ), Indians (9.1%) and others (0.2%).

The Bukit Gantang seat fell vacant following the death of incumbent Roslan Shaharom of PAS on Feb 9.

Ismail is a local unlike Nizar who is a registered voter in Pasir Panjang, where he is also its state assemblyman. Kamarul is from Taiping, but is not considered a factor in the by-election.

Ismail, who is Bukit Gantang Umno information chief, is from Kampung Kubu, Bukit Gantang while his wife is from Changkat Ibol in the same constituency.

Bukit Selambau (N25)
Some 13 independent candidates are up against Barisan Nasional’s S. Ganesan and PKR’s S. Manikumar.

The independent candidates are former Kedah PPP Wanita Chief L. Sarala, insurance manager T. Chandrarajan, businessman R. Loganathan, Arumugam’s special assistant S. Moganakumar, management consultant A. Jayagopal, businessman Venason Michael, businessman Tan Hock Huat, former army personnel Mohd Fazil Abdul Wahab, former army personnel Major (rtd) Anuar Abdul Hamid, quarry operator Husaini Yaacob, contractor Abdul Rahim Abu, town planner Khamis Awang, and businessman Radzi Md Lazim.

There are 35,140 voters registered in Bukit Selambau.

Independent candidate V. Arumu­gam won the seat in the 12th general election and later joined PKR and was appointed state executive councillor. He vacated the seat on Feb 8, paving the way for the by-election.

Batang Ai (N29)
The Batang Ai by-election will see a straight fight between Barisan Na­­sional newcomer Malcom Mussem Lamoh, 49, who will face former five-term Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang, 55, in this rural, predominantly Iban constituency.

The Batang Ai constituency, located near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, fell vacant following the death of assemblyman Datuk Dublin Unting on Feb 24.

It has 8,006 registered voters, about 95% of whom are Ibans.