BN may not contest Penanti, says PM

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim may get his wish for a walkover in the Penanti by-election after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today said the Barisan Nasional was mulling the possibility of not contesting the state seat.

Speaking at his hometown in Pekan, Pahang, the prime minister said the ruling coalition might opt out of the by-election “if it obtains the consensus of all component parties”.
Yesterday, Najib had accused the opposition of “playing political games” by deliberately forcing a by-election.
He then went on to say the country did not need another by-election as it “is a waste of time, energy and money”.
The Penanti by-election was triggered after the seat fell vacant following PKR assemblyperson Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin’s resignation in the wake of corruption allegations.
Anwar later called upon BN not to field a candidate against PKR and give the opposition party a walkover instead.
“It will not only save taxpayers’ money, time and energy, but also will be consistent with the premier’s statement,” said Anwar to 500 party members in his Permatang Pauh constituency last night.
Penanti, which has 15,241 registered voters, comes under Permatang Pauh – a PKR political fortress.
In the Permatang Pauh by-election last August, Penanti voters gave Anwar a thumping majority of 3,276.
Five months before that, at the 2008 general elections, first-timer Mohammad Fairus took the seat with a majority of 2,219.
The Election Commission said that it would make an announcement next Friday on the status of the seat as well as the by-election date should there be a vacancy.
A by-election must be called within 60 days after the seat is declared vacant. This will be the sixth by-election after the 2008 general election.