Ninth by-election in the Nine State

This is going to be the ninth by-election since the last general election. And it is going to be held in the Nine State (Negeri Sembilan). This is also the ninth month (September) in the year ending with nine (2009). Is this a good omen or a bad omen for the opposition?


Raja Petra Kamarudin

First, let’s look at what was.

N31 – Bagan Pinang

2004 General Election

Total registered voters – 10,777

Total votes cast – 8,022

% voter turnout – 74.44%

MOHD FAIZAL BIN RAMLI (BN) – 5,967 (74.38% of votes)


BN majority – 4,411

Spoilt votes – 499

2008 General Election

Total registered voters – 14,192

Total votes cast – 10,911

% voter turnout – 76.88%

AZMAN MOHD NOR (BN) – 6,430 (58.93% of votes)


BN majority – 2,333

Spoilt votes – 384

And what will we see for the coming by-election in the next month or two?

What will we see this coming by-election? Well, there are many factors to consider. First, of course, would be the candidate. Field the wrong candidate and we shall see a repeat of what happened in the recent by-election in Penang.

Next would be whether PAS can close ranks and unite because it appears like PAS is very badly split down in Negeri Sembilan.

One more factor would be the 5,000 plus postal votes from that state constituency (out of 7,000 postal votes for the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency, which Bagan Pinang comes under). That represents about one-third the total number of registered voters. If there is a free and fair election, and if the Election Commission (SPR) does not, as usual, ‘switch’ ballot boxes, then the opposition has a good chance of grabbing that seat. If not, then the fake postal votes would give Barisan Nasional a win with a majority of at least 2,000-3,000 votes.

Note that the number of Malay voters in this constituency is about two-thirds, which means most would come from the postal votes. There are about 10.5% Chinese voters, 19.9% Indian voters, and 3.5% others. This is an ideal breakdown for the opposition, if not for the 5,000 plus postal votes that can be manipulated in Barisan Nasional’s favour.

In 1999, Ruslam Kassim, the opposition candidate from PKR, won the majority of the postal votes in that parliamentary constituency, which the Bagan Pinang state seat comes under. In 2008, Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas, the Member of Parliament for Teluk Kemang and PKR’s head for Negeri Sembilan, lost that state constituency by only 2,000 plus votes in spite of the more than 7,000 postal votes.

So, Pakatan Rakyat still has a chance of winning that seat if they can keep those postal votes under control. Then the loss by a majority of 2,000-3,000 may instead be transformed to a win with a 1,500-2,000-vote majority.

That is my prediction if Pakatan Rakyat can address those three main issues above.

One thing to note is that in 2004 Barisan Nasional garnered 74.38% of the total votes cast while in 2008 it garnered only 58.93%. That is a large drop in share of votes. And the Barisan National majority of 2,333 for 2008 (down from 4,411 in 2004) include the more than 5,000 postal votes.

In a fair and free election, that seat is clearly an opposition seat. Come on Pakatan Rakyat. Give us a win with a majority of at least 1,500-1,800 votes. Of course, more would be better — say 2,200?