Archive for December, 2008

Thanks to our MAFREL people in KT, we have the by-election electoral roll. Here are my attempts to analyze the voter data and write-ups.

90 Voters in a Big House in KT (new)
90 voters live in the same big house at No. 1089-A of Kg Kuala Ibai in Kuala Terengganu. SPR’s inconsistent house numbering format understates the number of voters in the same houses. Meanwhile, 453 voters are registered without house number (NoRumah) at a single locality, ie, Kg Gong Tok Nasek.
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/90-voters-in-big-house-in-kt.html

8,388 or 10% of KT Voters Have No NoRumah
10.5% of voters in Kuala Terengganu are registered without a house number (NoRumah), even after excluding postal voters. SPR’s voter address registration seems archaic, with 35% voters nationwide without house numbers, and without ZIP code. Why not automatically register voters and use MyKad address?
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/8388-or-10-of-kt-voters-have-no-norumah.html

KT Has 143 Voting Streams with Uneven Sizes, in 36 Voting Stations
We list KT’s 36 voting stations (TM), 143 voting streams (Saluran), and the maximum number of voters that can appear in a vote tally. Two oldest voters pushed to the end of queue?
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/143-voting-streams-with-uneven-sizes-in.html

KT Subdivided into 4 DUN, 38 DM, 36 TM, 336 Localities
Kuala Terengganu (P036) contains 4 state seats (DUN), 38 voting districts (DM), 36 voting stations (TM), 143 voting streams (Saluran), and 336 localities. Oddly, KT contains very small and large localities (1 to 2,812 voters).
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/kt-subdivides-into-4-dun-38-dm-36-tm.html

1001 Police IC Changes = 1001 Potential Confusions
SPR again slightly modified all police IC numbers. The same police voters actually remain registered in KT. But researchers who compare electoral rolls using IC numbers may mistake them as 1001 missing voters and – at the same time – another 1001 newly added voters. Such confusion had accounted for half the mystery and uproar about “900+ missing voters” in the Permatang Pauh by-election in August 2008.
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/1001-police-ic-changes-1001-potential.html

1001 Police Voters in KT
Of Kuala Terengganu’s 1,035 postal voters, 1,001 or 97% are police personnel. Of these, 864 are registered at 3 police locations within the Ladang state seat (N15). Other than police personnel, there are 27 army and 7 absentee postal voters residing abroad.
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/1001-police-voters-in-kt.html

SPR Improves Voter Name Consistency, With Mixed Results
In the KT electoral roll gazetted on 2008 Dec 5, SPR has improved voter name consistencies by changing backquote (`) to single quote (‘), and made some standardization of “Bin” and “Binti” formats, etc. But there were reversals, and accidental addition of double spaces into 121 names, etc.
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/spr-improves-voter-name-consistency.html

KT’s Mainly Young Voters Include 46 Centenerians
67% of Kuala Terengganu voters are 21 to 49 year old. KT contains 187 voters aged 90 to 99, a deletion of 30 voters in this age group from the GE12 roll. However, There remains 46 voters aged 100 and more, a deletion of only 1 voter since the GE12 roll. Unlike Permatang Pauh, SPR did not completely delete the 100-and-older voters across the board.
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/kts-mainly-young-voters-include-46.html

Understanding P036 – Kuala Terengganu Parliamentary Constituency
What does the KT parliamentary seat look like on map? What are the state assembly seats (DUN)? How many voters are here and how have they voted in the past?
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/understanding-p036-kuala-terengganu.html

Kuala Terengganu (P036) By-Election 2009 Jan 17
Polling day is 2009 Jan 17. Campaign period is 11 days, counting from nomination day of Jan 6. SPR will use the electoral roll gazetted on 2008 Dec 5, containing 80,229 registered voters, made up of 79,194 ordinary and 1,035 postal voters. SPR said there would be 36 polling centres, 143 polling streams, and SPR 877 workers.
…  http://malvu.blogspot.com/2008/12/kuala-terengganu-or-kt-by-election-on.html

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In the Malay Media

By-election hobnobbing
22 Dec 08 : 8.00AM Translation by Cindy Tham

WITH the 17 Jan 2009 Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election about two
months before the March 2009 Umno polls, the Malay dailies have picked up on
the efforts by some Umno leaders to boost their chances in the party polls.

Besides this, the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English, and the
discovery of the carcass of a wild boar’s head in a largely Muslim community
were among the headlines in the Malay press from 15 to 19 Dec 2008.

Hobnobbing in KT

On 19 Dec, Utusan Malaysia ran a news analysis on the concern that some Umno
leaders may be focusing on the wrong thing in the Kuala Terengganu
by-election. The article, The culture of trying to be seen with top leaders
needs to stop, said whenever there were by-elections, Barisan Nasional (BN)
leaders – namely Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his
deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Razak – would be surrounded by various Umno folk.
It said most of them merely wanted to be seen publicly with the top two
leaders when they visited the grassroots during the election campaign.

The article observed that it would be fine if it was merely to greet the two
leaders at the airport and stick around to listen to a briefing on their
itinerary. However, the hangers-on showed up in droves, tailing the leaders
wherever they went, from one operation or polling centre to another.

This would have a negative effect on the campaign, the article observed, as
party members should instead be spreading out to attend to “black” and
“grey” areas (where the BN is not popular among voters).

“It’s alright if they are following the two leaders in a small group, but
there’s something wrong when there’s a long convoy,” a Terengganu Umno
division head was quoted as saying.

He did not name any culprit but anticipated that there would be such Umno
leaders doing exactly this in Kuala Terengganu because it was just before
the party polls.

“I was campaigning in [the] Permatang Pauh [by-election in August 2008] and
did not see such a culture among the opposition parties. Even when a chief
minister or a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader was visiting the area, the
party workers there were focused on their tasks, distributing flyers,
putting up posters on trees and lamp posts,” he said.

The division head said the 11 days of campaigning for the Kuala Terengganu
by-election was not the time for these Umno leaders to promote themselves,
curry favour with the top two or steal the limelight. He pointed out that
the priority should be to ensure the BN candidate wins.

Lessons from Permatang Pauh

An earlier feature by Utusan Malaysia on 17 Dec said as Umno faces the Kuala
Terengganu by-election, it should not repeat some of the mistakes of
Permatang Pauh.

The feature, titled Lessons from Permatang Pauh, said Umno should ensure
there was no jealousy and spite among party members, so that the candidate
who is selected to contest can win.

It noted that in Permatang Pauh, everyone could see there was a strain in
the relationship between the leadership of that Umno division and BN
candidate Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah.

Arif Shah and his family were often seen campaigning on their own and did
not get much support from the division. As a result, the article said, the
BN not only had to face the opposition in the by-election but also struggled
with internal problems.

Arif Shah lost by 15,671 votes to PKR advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in
Permatang Pauh.

The article said Umno’s election machinery must ensure that the internal
conflict that plagued the Permatang Pauh by-election was not repeated in
Kuala Terengganu. It cautioned that another opposition victory would give
the Pakatan Rakyat more ammunition to claim that the electorate rejected the


In the Chinese Media

Gearing up for KT
22 Dec 08 : 8.00AM Translation by Leong Lai Ming

FROM 13 to 19 Dec 2008, the Chinese press highlighted the issue of the Kuala
Terengganu by-election; reactions towards the restructuring of Warta
Mandarin; and the continuing New Era College dispute.

Morality in Kuala Terengganu

Oriental Daily’s 14 Dec interview with PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat
Isa by Xie Zhong Yang provided a glimpse of PAS’s by-election strategy. In
the interview, Aiming at MCA internal conflict, PAS to gain Chinese votes,
Nasharudin did not rule out the possibility of using Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi
Lek’s sex scandal to gain Chinese votes in Kuala Terengganu.

The October MCA party election saw the unexpected combination of Datuk Seri
Ong Tee Keat winning the presidency and Chua winning the vice-presidency.
Both were making contradicting remarks even before the election and more
recently in regard to Chua’s comments on ketuanan Melayu.

Nasharudin said, “All these events make us (PAS) believe that Chinese
Malaysians are tired and have lost confidence towards this Chinese-based
party claiming a membership of millions. MCA is now caught in a leadership

He said MCA is bound to face many problems after electing Chua as its deputy
president. This is because not only PAS, but the entire nation is unable to
accept a morally-tainted leader.

In other words, PAS will be staking the moral high ground to try to sway
Chinese voters with universal values.

Regarding PAS Selangor’s suggestion to ban alcohol sales, Nasharudin said
the issue may be used as a strategy by the Barisan Nasional (BN) and MCA in
the by-election. However, he felt that its impact on Kuala Terengganu
Chinese is minimal. Nasharudin said, “PAS has always respected Chinese
Malaysian customs and allowed Chinese Malaysian culture to flourish.”

During the 8 March election, the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat saw a
three-cornered fight between the BN, PAS, and independent candidate Maimun
Yusuf. Umno’s late Datuk Razali Ismail won the seat with a 628-vote

Many note that, taking into account the 931 spoilt votes and 685 votes for
Maimun, PAS could have won the seat on 8 March.

Nasharudin admitted that the three-cornered fight led to PAS’s defeat, but
stressed that the party would not prevent Maimun from re-contesting because
Malaysia is a democracy.

Nevertheless, Nasharudin was tight-lipped about the core votes for PAS and
Umno. It is reported that Umno and PAS each have control of between 20% and
one-third of the vote. Therefore it is crucial for each party to gain votes
of the undecided, including Chinese Malaysians, to win the seat.


Pas yet to finalise its KT candidate

KUALA TERENGGANU, Dec 22 – Pas has yet to finalise its candidate for the
Kuala Terengganu parliamentary by-election although its president Datuk Seri
Abdul Hadi Awang claims the name is “in my pocket” party sources said today.

“They have narrowed down the names but the president has yet to decide,” a
source told The Malaysian Insider here.

Hadi had said the candidate, whom he said is a professional and
people-oriented, was more than qualified to face Barisan Nasional’s Senator
Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, who is also deputy home minister. Wan
Ahmad Farid said he will quit both appointments a day before nomination day
on Jan 6.

Polling day is January 17 for the parliamentary constituency which has
80,229 voters. BN’s Datuk Razali Ismail narrowly won the seat with a 628
vote majority in the March 8 elections, beating PAS’ Mohamed Sabu and
grandmonther Maimum Yusof. Razali, who was deputy education minister, died
late last month.

Speculation is rife that PAS will name Batu Buruk assemblyman Dr Syed Azman
Syed Ahmad Nawawi as its candidate as he was the Kuala Terengganu MP between
1999 and 2004.

Hadi, who had said he will make the announcement on Jan 1, is confident the
party candidate will triumph on polling day.

The by-election is crucial to both Barisan Nasional and PAS with the ruling
coalition out to prove it has regained support and strength after the dismal
outing in the general elections where it lost its traditional two-thirds
parliamentary majority and four more states to the opposition which has
formed the Pakatan Rakyat electoral pact.

Barisan Nasional also lost the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election to
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who took back his political stronghold from his
wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, the president of Parti Keadilan
Rakyat (PKR)

Pas has to prove to PKR that it is more than a junior member in the
three-party electoral pact. The other party in the pact is the Democratic
Action Party (DAP).

The DAP has now asked Pas to clarify its vice-president Datuk Husam Musa’s
declaration that it will implement the Islamic criminal laws known as hudud
when the pact captures Putrajaya.

Both parties fell out over the same issue after the 1999 general elections
where the opposition gained more seats due to Anwar’s sacking as deputy
prime minister and finance minister by then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir


PAS candidate: Mat Sabu out
Hafiz Yatim | Dec 22, 08 5:42pm [extract]

According to party’s mouthpiece Harakahdaily, the doors seemed to be “almost
closed” on Mohamad – a party leader from Penang who was PAS candidate for
Kuala Terengganu in the March general elections – following claims he as an
“outsider” would not be generally accepted by the voters.

This is despite that the veteran politician is best known for his witty
oratory skills and has the blessings from influential party leader, Nik

Generally, the PAS candidate for Kuala Terengganu had always been a local
and this trend is expected to continue despite Mohamad’s choice in the March
8 general elections.


After Husam’s hudud remarks, a small opening for BN in KT vote
By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 – By declaring that his party would introduce the hudud
if it wins federal power, Pas vice president Datuk Husam Musa may have
unwittingly placed the Islamic state issue on the Kuala Terengganu
by-election agenda.

Today, the DAP, the Chinese-dominated secular partner of Pas in the Pakatan
Rakyat alliance, quickly disassociated itself from the remarks, which will
certainly cause concern among many non-Muslims because such strict Islamic
law would introduce whipping, stoning and amputation as punishment for
criminal offences.

“Hukum hudud is not Pakatan Rakyat policy and it is for Husam to clarify
what he actually said,” veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang wrote in his blog

“DAP’s stand on the secular character of Malaysian nation and state as
agreed in the social contract by our forefathers when Merdeka was achieved
51 years ago remains consistent and unchanged,” he added.

Husam’s hudud remark will give the MCA, a party which had been abandoned by
Chinese voters in the March elections, an opening to regain some support
from the opposition and possibly win over the small but significant number
of Chinese voters in the crucial Kuala Terengganu vote.

MCA Wanita chief Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun told The Malaysian Insider that
her party was against hudud, saying that the entire non-Muslim community
would “definitely go against it”.

She noted that Husam had effectively shot PR’s chances in the by-election
with his statement and that nothing the DAP said now could lessen the

“The most important thing is what exactly is the policy when they run the
government,” Chew said, drawing attention to Pas’s act in passing hudud law
in Terengganu when it ruled the east coast state previously.

“I think people will look for that,” she said.

Husam was challenged by Umno Youth chief hopeful Khairy Jamaluddin to
disclose Pas’s stand in a public debate on “Malaysian Political Reformation”
in Kota Baru last Saturday.

Asked how she felt about Khairy’s promise to also push for hudud, Chew
dismissed the possibility of Umno, MCA’s senior partner in the Barisan
Nasional coalition, deciding to introduce the strict Islamic code.

“At the moment, Khairy is not one to decide the direction and policy of the
government,” Chew said.

The other Umno Youth chief hopeful, Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, was
equally dismissive of Husam and Khairy.

“That is only their political rhetoric, trying to be a champion for the
Malays without thinking of the nation’s multiracial structure,” the former
Selangor Menteri Besar told The Malaysian Insider.

“Hudud is only a small claim in Islam. Not implementing hudud does not mean
we fail to become good Muslims,” said Khir.

“For me, it is more important that the effort to become a good Muslim should
be done by Umno Youth, by having youths who are responsible, ready to face
challenges, willing to uphold justice and who are free from all the bad
points of life,” he added.

Controversy dogs Barisan Nasional’s candidate, Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh

Some issues PAS intends to pick on

Betulkah Mat Sabu kalah kerana faktor ‘orang luar’?

Wan Farid: Terbukti Abdullah masih berpengaruh

Pengajaran dari Permatang Pauh

Has Santa Claus come to K. Terengganu?

25,000 pupils to get laptops
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The Malaysian Insider

KUALA TERENGGANU, Dec 20 – There were no surprises today in the naming of Senator Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh as Barisan Nasional’s (BN) candidate for the crucial Kuala Terengganu by-election, but the controversies surrounding him and his close links with the prime minister will be campaign fodder for Pakatan Rakyat.

For Wan Farid, who is also Kuala Terengganu Umno division chief and the deputy home minister, his political career is riding on the election as he has been told that he will not be reappointed senator again if he loses the vote.

The Terengganu state assembly nominated the deputy home minister as senator recently as his first term ends in January.

The selection of Wan Ahmad Farid was announced by Deputy Prime Mnister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who said the decision had the consent of Prime Minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“For the candidate, the Umno president had taken all factors and opinions into consideration, and thus the BN now presents Datuk Wan Farid as its candidate for the P36 Kuala Terengganu by-election,” said Najib, who is also Umno deputy president.

Najib said Wan Farid, 46, who has been the Kuala Terengganu Umno division head for two terms, was the candidate whom the party leaders believed to be capable of retaining the parliamentary seat for the BN.

“I have had several discussions with the (Umno) president, I want to tell the president that I share his view in the selection of the candidate,” he said.

In addition, he said, other Umno leaders as well as the leaders of the other BN component parties, including from the Terengganu state itself, supported choice of Wan Farid.

“In a by-election, the candidate is among the factors that determines the party’s victory and we are confident that our candidate is capable of achieving victory on Jan 17,” he said.

He said the naming of the BN candidate early for this by-election instead of the usual announcement on the eve of nomination day, was intended to enable the chosen candidate to be closer to the constituents.

It would also give the BN time to tackle or resolve any problems that might arise, he said.

The election has gained significance because it comes just as BN appears to be regaining a stable foothold on power after months of uncertainty brought about by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim’s threat to seize power through mass defections.

But his failure and the announcement that Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi will leave office in March has brought back some focus to the ruling coalition.

This will serve as a minor test of Najib’s leadership before he takes the reins of power in March.

Najib has said Barisan Nasional and Umno will have to win the by-election as proof of its revival after its dismal performance in the March 8 general election where it lost its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority together with four states and the mauling at the Permatang Pauh by-election that saw sacked Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim make his political comeback.

But the choice of Wan Farid will ensure BN’s work remains cut out for them.

Wan Farid is a former political secretary to the prime minister.

But he is closely linked, through his elder brother Datuk Wan Hisham Wan Salleh, to the organising of the Monsoon Cup, the annual world-class sailing competition which has been heavily criticised because of its elitism and the perception that the event serves to benefit the politically-connected and not the state in general.

Pas, who are expected to be the main contender to BN for the seat, has already served notice that they will use the Monsoon Cup to attack their traditional rivals.

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Wan Ahmad Farid is BN’s choice
Muda Mohd Noor | Dec 20, 08 4:50pm

Deputy Home Minister Senator Wan Ahmad Farid Salleh is Barisan Nasional’s standard bearer for the Jan 17 Kuala Terengganu by-election.

His candidacy was announced by Deputy Premier Najib Tun Razak in Kuala Terengganu at 4.50pm today.

kt-be-bncandidateThe selection of Wan Ahmad Farid was not a surprise. He was the firm favourite for weeks due to his popularity in Terengganu, where he also heads the Kuala Terengganu Umno division.

He is also considered a ‘political heavyweight’, which is an advantage because the parliamentary seat was previously held by a deputy minister – Razali Ismail, who died of a heart attack on Nov 28.

The 46-year-old former lawyer who graduated from Thames Valley University, London was born and raised in Kuala Terengganu.

Meanwhile, arch-rival PAS, who will carry the Pakatan Rakyat banner, have yet to name its candidate. However, the party is said to have narrowed its choices to Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi, state chief Mustafa Ali and vice-president Mohamad Sabu.

Party leaders are expected to make a decision tomorrow after a central working committee meeting, which will take into consideration feedback from local divisions.

13 years in politics

Wah Ahmad Farid was a former syarie lawyer and secretary of the Terengganu Bar Committe in 1987.

Eight years later, he got involved in politics after becoming an Umno committee member in the Kuala Terengganu Umno Youth division. It took Wan Ahmad Farid three years to become the division’s Youth chief. He was appointed Youth exco from 1999 to 2001.

In 2001, he was chosen to be the deputy chairperson for the Kuala Terengganu Umno division which later saw him being appointed political secretary to the home minister on Dec 31, 2003. This was when he decided to move away from his legal profession.

He then became the Kuala Terengganu division chief after defeating senator Roslan Awang Chik.

BN is set to face a heated battle not only from PAS, but from Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) and three others who have expressed interest in the seat.

The three are 89-year-old Maimun Yusuf, who contested in the March 8 general election, entrepreneur Mohd Azlan Ismail and Isma Arifath Hassanuddin from Rantau Panjang, Kelantan.

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BN faces critical by-election test
Dec 5, 08 1:23pm

The Barisan Nasional government faces a by-election next month which analysts say will be a critical test of public reaction to its reform promises after disastrous polls in March.

The by-election in Terengganu, a battleground between the ruling Umno and the Islamic opposition party PAS, was triggered by the death of a deputy minister.

Election Commission deputy chairman Wan Ahmad Wan Omar announced today that the by-election would be held on Jan 17, with parties to declare their candidates on Jan 6.

After wrangles in the past over allegations of fraud and vote-buying, Wan Ahmad said that Mafrel (Malaysians for Free Elections) would be allowed to monitor the process.

“We like having Mafrel as observers as it boosts the confidence of people and transparency,” he told a press conference.

The vote comes at an unfortunate time for Umno, which leads the BN coalition that was humbled in March elections – losing a third of parliamentary seats and five states to the three-member opposition alliance.

BN in a state of disarray

Since then it has been in a state of disarray that is unlikely to be resolved until its annual assembly next March, when deputy prime minister Najib Razak is expected to replace unpopular premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

kuala terengganu parliament seat 291108Infighting and rivalries helped it lose an August by-election that allowed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to return to parliament – a decade after he was sacked as deputy premier and jailed on sex and corruption charges.

Analysts said Umno faces a tough by-election battle against PAS, which along with Anwar’s PKR and the predominantly Chinese DAP makes up the opposition alliance.

“It will be a classic battle between two Malay political parties in a Malay heartland,” said James Chin, professor of political science at the Kuala Lumpur campus of Monash university.

“If PAS wins it means the people do not believe Umno’s reform programme. It means their sentiments against the ruling party since the March elections are still there,” he said.

“It could also demonstrate that voters do not have confidence in Najib Razak’s leadership and believe that Umno is not capable of any reform.”

Najib to lead BN campaign

Najib, who as deputy premier will direct the ruling party’s election campaign, has promised to make good on Abdullah’s promises of change, which were never realised after he came to power in 2003.

But there are doubts whether the Umno, which has become plagued by corruption in the half-century it has dominated Malaysian politics, is capable of undergoing the changes that voters are demanding.

The party won the vacant seat of Kuala Terengganu in March, but only with the slimmest of majorities.

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By-election: Polling day on Jan 17
Beh Lih Yi & Ng Ling Fong | Dec 5, 08 11:43am

The Election Commission (EC) today announced that the Kuala Terengganu by-election will be held on Saturday, Jan 17, with nomination day fixed on Tuesday, Jan 6.

This means the parties will have a campaign period of 11 days.

The much-awaited announcement was made by EC deputy chairperson Wan Ahmad Wan Omar after chairing a meeting of commissioners at its headquarters in Putrajaya this morning.

The EC also said there will be 80,229 registered voters, including 1,035 postal voters.

The latest figure is slightly lower than the 80,325 voters recorded in March.

‘Most suitable date’

According to Wan Ahmad, the nomination and polling dates were fixed after taking into consideration the weather in the east coast, which is usually affected by floods due to year-end monsoon rains.

He said EC also took into consideration the fact that since 70 percent of the 877 officers and workers involved in the by-election are teachers, it would not be appropriate to hold the elections during the current school holidays.

“Jan 17 is the most suitable date. It will give sufficient time for the contesting parties to prepare for the by-election,” he told reporters during the question-and-answer session.

Wan Ahmad also said the use of indelible ink – long demanded by polls reform groups – will not be implemented in this by-election.

“We won’t be using indelible ink because EC made that decision prior to the general election, everybody is aware of the reason behind it – the constraints of law – and that reason stands,” he explained.

He reminded political parties that they can only start campaigning and put up election campaign materials such as banners, posters and flags after the completion of the nomination.

Two enforcement teams will be set up to monitor any irregularities during the campaigning period.

Conditions for independent observers

Meanwhile, Wan Ahmad said independent election monitoring group, Malaysians for Free and Fair Election (Mafrel) will be allowed to monitor the upcoming by-election with conditions.

“Mafrel observers will not be allowed to enter the polling station on polling day because the law prohibits anyone other than election workers, polling agents, voters, EC officials and individuals permitted by EC to enter the polling stations.

“They can observe what is happening in the polling station by just standing at the door because we already have polling agents sitting there from 8am to 5pm. It’s not necessary to have others there and disturb the process,” he said.

There will be 36 polling centres (the schools) and 143 polling stations (the classrooms).

The Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat fell vacant when Razali Ismail, also deputy education minister, died of heart attack while playing badminton in Genting Highlands last Friday.

Razali was a two-term incumbent and had contested on a BN-Umno ticket.

He defeated PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and 89-year-old Maimun Yusuf in the March 8 general election, winning with a slim majority of 628.

He bagged 32,562 votes against Mohamad’s 31,934 and independent candidate Maimun’s 685.

Second by-election after March polls

A tough fight is expected in the by-election as the seat has been a keen battleground for BN and the opposition in recent years.

In the past two general elections, the seat was won by BN with a majority of 628 votes (in 2008) and 1,933 votes (in 2004).

PAS won the seat in 1999, while BN took the seat in 1995, and in 1990 election, the seat went Umno splinter group, Semangat 46.

So far, Umno, PAS and Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) – a PAS splinter group – have expressed interest in contesting the upcoming polls.

The Kuala Terengganu by-election will be the second by-election since the general election on March 8.

The first by-election was held on Aug 26 in Permatang Pauh, Penang, after incumbent Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail of PKR stepped down to pave the way for her husband Anwar Ibrahim to make a comeback in politics.

Anwar won with a thumping majority of 15,671 votes, defeating BN’s Arif Shah Omar Shah and Akim president Hanafi Hamat. The campaign period was 10 days.

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KT by-election: The likely candidates
Beh Lih Yi & Muda Mohd Noor | Dec 3, 08 5:32pm

Deputy Home Minister and senator Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh is widely considered the front-runner for the ruling Barisan Nasional’s choice of candidate in the upcoming Kuala Terengganu by-election.

wan_ahmadWan Ahmad Farid, who is also the Kuala Terengganu Umno division chief, was among five names that were rumoured to be the possible candidates for BN.

The other four are Terengganu Umno treasurer Roslan Awang Chik, information chief Zuber Embong, Kuala Terengganu division deputy chief Mohd Sabri Alwi and the division’s former information chief Mohd Zuber Embong (no link to information chief Zuber).

However, Wan Ahmad Farid – a former political secretary to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the Internal Security Ministry – has emerrged as the leading contender on the back of his popularity and his post as the party’s division chief in the constituency.

Another factor was his senatorship – his three-year term is due to expire in three weeks on Dec 22.

He is considered a ‘political heavyweight’ among the five and therefore deemed suitable as the seat was previously held by a deputy minister.

Nasharuddin to lead PAS machinery

The Kuala Terengganu seat fell vacant after incumbent Razali Ismail, the deputy education minister, died of heart attack while playing badminton in Genting Highlands last Friday.

The Election Commission is scheduled to announce the dates for the nomination and polling on Friday.

Razali was a two-term Kuala Terengganu MP and had contested on Umno’s ticket.

He defeated PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and 89-year-old Maimun Yusuf in the March 8 general election, winning with a slim majority of 628 by bagging 32,562 votes against Mohamad’s 31,934 and independent candidate Maimun’s 685.

Meanwhile, there appears to be a change of strategy in rival PAS when the party picked its  No 2, Nasharuddin Mat Isa, to head its election machinery.

Nasharuddin will be assisted by the party’s national election director and PAS state chief Mustafa Ali.

Conventionally, Mustafa should have been the person leading the charge and the change this time fueled speculations that the party’s senior leader could be one of PAS’ possible candidates.

Asked whether Mustafa’s name is on the list, Nasharuddin declined comment.

“I am not sure about that. (The change of strategy) is because while this is a by-election, the party decides to make it a national affair,” said Nasharuddin in referring to his appointment as the head of the by-election machinery.

Asked on the party’s likely candidate, he reiterated that the Kuala Terengganu division – which is meeting today – will be putting forward its recommendation to the state and subsequently to the national leadership for consideration.

syed_azman“The division’s recommendation will not be made public today as we expect the party’s central working committee to have the final say on the matter on Dec 21,” he told Malaysiakini.

While the decision on the party’s candidate is pending, Nasharuddin revealed that the PAS’ election machinery has already started work on the ground.

Among the names of the candidates that are being bandied about by PAS grassroots included former candidate Mohamad, ex-Kuala Terengganu MP Syed Azman Syed Ahmad Nawawi and the state’s deputy chief, Wan Mutalib Embong.

Mat Sabu refuses to openly offer himself

When contacted, Mohamad – popularly known as Mat Sabu and for his fiery yet witty oratory skill – said he will not offer himself as the candidate.

mohd_sabu“The party has yet to make any decision so it’s better we leave it to the party to decide and I will abide to the party’s decision,” the party vice-president told Malaysiakini.

Mohamad, who hails from Penang, declined to comment on the clamour from the Kuala Terengganu division for a local to be fielded in the coming by-election.

Nevertheless, he was of the view that PAS stands a better chance to win by bagging an increase of Chinese votes, which accounted for about 10 percent of the voters.

“This is because DAP is now with Pakatan Rakyat and I think no matter who PAS picks as the candidate, we can get additional Chinese votes,” he said.

Despite Mohamad declining to openly offer himself as a candidate, Kelantan Menteri Besar and PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said he was rooting for the veteran politician to contest in the by-election.

According to Star Online, the senior leader considered Mohamad as ‘a man of calibre’ and suitable to be the people’s representative for Kuala Terengganu. He nevertheless stressed that his statement was a personal opinion.

“He has the gift of the gab … and he is very articulate to the extent that I cannot do what he can do when he goes on stage,” the menteri besar was reported as saying.

Akim and Maimun – the wild cards

Apart from BN and PAS, Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) – a PAS splinter group – has also expressed its interest contest in the polls.

Akim president Hanafi Hamat, was recently defeated in the August Permatang Pauh by-election by PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim, said his party is planning to join the fray.

maimunNot to forget too, Maimun, the grandmother who ran as an Independent in the general elections nine months ago and took enough votes away from Mohamad to deny him victory, could again be the wild card.

She has indicated that she could contest again if she could raise enough funds.

According to statistics at the March general election, there are 80,325 eligible voters in the parliamentary seat, with Malays constituting 88.2 percent, Chinese (10.9 percent), Indians (0.6 percent) and others (0.2 percent).

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