By Shanon Shah (thenutgraph.com)
SUNGAI PETANI, 29 Mar 2009: The Bukit Selambau by-election has broken all records: the Election Commission announced at noon today that 15 candidates would be vying for the state seat in Kedah come 7 April.
Apart from the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Datuk S Ganesan and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s S Manikumar, the other candidates are all contesting as independents. Never before in Malaysian history have so many candidates — what more independents — contested for a seat.
The 15 nomination forms being displayed by the EC outside the nomination centre
for the public to inspect and object to, if necessary
After nominations were filed, between 10am and 11am the EC received nine objections, but these did not result in any disqualifications.
Supporting PKR’s candidate this morning were leaders from Pakatan Rakyat (PR) such as PAS’s Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, who is also Kedah menteri besar, and PAS Youth chief Salahuddin Ayub; DAP national deputy chairperson Dr Tan Seng Giaw and national Wanita chief Chong Eng; and PKR vice-president R Sivarasa, supreme council member S Manikavasagam, and information chief Tian Chua.
They led an approximately 3,000-strong procession to the nomination centre.
Azizan said that the by-election would not be a referendum on the Kedah PR government.
“The PR government covers the whole state, and Bukit Selambau is only one constituency here,” he said.
Manikavasagam said that the Makkal Sakthi faction’s protest against Manikumar’s candidacy had already been amicably settled.
Referring to the Hindraf leader, Manikavasagam said, “I had a 45-minute conversation with P Waythamoorthy, and he is also behind PKR’s choice in this by-election.”
However, Manikavasagam said he was worried that the Indian Malaysian vote might split, even though he was confident that the Chinese Malaysian vote would go to PKR.
Chua, on the other hand, said that the large number of independent candidates was designed to “fool the people”.
“The rakyat knows that the real fight is still between the two different ideologies of BN and PR, and they will make their own judgment,” he said.
The BN brought in heavyweights such as newly-minted Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil to boost Ganesan’s campaign this morning.
Also present were MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and vice-president Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen. MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu also made an appearance, along with several other state-level leaders from BN component parties.
They led a nearly 2,000-strong contingent to the nomination centre.
Hishammuddin said, “This is not going to be easy, because this is not our seat right now.” He was, however, cautiously optimistic of a BN victory.
Shahrizat predicted that the BN would win all three by-elections, in Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai.
Chua, on the other hand, said he was worried that Indian Malaysian voters would continue to vote against the BN because of dissatisfaction with the MIC.
The independent candidates were largely optimistic about their chances as well.
Hokkien-speaking A Jayagopal, a suspended PKR local leader, said he was the best candidate for Bukit Selambau since he has the ability to connect with each racial community.
Mohd Fazil a.k.a. Tok MisaiMohd Fazil Abdul Wahab, known affectionately as Tok Misai, said he was confident because he was a leader for all races.
Major (Rtd) Anuar Abdul Hamid, said he was confident of going to the grassroots to get their support, since he was previously an Umno member. He said he left the party in 2008.
Another former Umno candidate, Abdul Rahim Abu, said he was prepared to withdraw his candidacy if he was convinced that there was a candidate who could champion the cause of Malay Malaysians effectively.
Once the candidates were confirmed, the EC announced the candidates’ listing on the ballot paper and their respective symbols. This event was occasionally greeted with the crowd’s laughter.
The complete, record-breaking candidates’ list for Bukit Selambau is as follows, in order of appearance on the ballot paper:
1. Loganathan Ramachandran, 42 years old (symbol: oil palm)
2. Tan Hock Huat, 45 (key)
3. Radzi Md Lazim, 55 (chair)
4. Manikumar Subramanian, 34 (PKR)
5. Mohd Fazil Abdul Wahab, 37 (tiger’s head)
6. Abdul Rahim Abu, 58 (alarm clock)
7. Sarala Loganathan, 33 (bicycle)
8. Datuk Ganesan Subramaniam, 49 (BN)
9. Jayagopal Adaikkalam, 56 (umbrella)
10. Moganakumar Subramaniam, 43 (book)
11. Khamis Awang, 31 (rooster)
12. Husaini Yaacob, 44 (bus)
13. Venason Michael, 33 (fish)
14. Major (Rtd) Anuar Abdul Hamid, 58 (telephone)
15. Chandrarajan Thanasagaran, 39 (aeroplane)
Although there was heavy police presence and confusion among the crowd, the nomination process proceeded without a hitch.
The Bukit Selambau constituency covers areas of north Sungai Petani, Pekan Bukit Selambau and Bukit Lembu.
It currently has 35,140 registered voters, according to the 18 Feb electoral roll. Polling day is on 7 Apr, with 22 voting districts and 64 voting streams.
Record-breaking number of candidates
By Shanon Shah (thenutgraph.com)