Najib: BN may skip Penanti

(The Malaysian Insider) – Stung by four straight by-election defeats in the peninsula, Barisan Nasional might skip contesting the Penanti by-election if there is consensus among component parties.

It that happens, it would possibly be the first ever by-election not contested by the ruling coalition since Merdeka.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the ruling coalition will decide soon after getting feedback.

"Don't know yet (whether we opt out or not). We will look first, but I don't rule out any possibility," he told reporters here.

He added he would meet with the Umno supreme council and leaders from BN component parties to discuss the matter.

"I will raise the matter at the next Umno supreme council meeting. If I don't have the time, I will bring it up to the political bureau, and discuss with the BN component party presidents," he added.

He had earlier called it a wasteful process, saying people were tired of the slew of by-elections and the focus should be on the softening economy.

The Election Commission has said it will have to establish if the PKR-held Penang state seat is vacant after incumbent Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin sent a resignation letter on Thursday.

The embattled Fairus had earlier quit as deputy chief minister I after allegations of being involved in illegal quarries.

PKR is keen to have a by-election to decide Fairus's successor as deputy chief minister which has been reserved for the party.

It has two other Malay lawmakers in Penang but de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is not keen on them.

The Penanti seat is seen as a PKR stronghold as it is within Anwar's political fortress Permatang Pauh, which returned him to Parliament last August.

If the Election Commission does declare on April 24 to hold by-elections, it will be the third in the semi-rural state seat since March 2008.