BN-less Penanti still a diverse contest

By Shanon Shah (
BUTTERWORTH, 23 May 2009: Despite the Barisan Nasional (BN) not contesting, the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) will still have to face an intriguing challenge from three very different independent candidates.

There would have been a fourth to contend with, Mohd Saberi Othman, 49, but the Election Commission (EC) disqualified him after finding that he is bankrupt.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s Dr Mansor Othman, 59, will now have to face an ex-Penang PKR Wanita chief, an ex-Gerakan local leader, and an ex-by-election contender.
Aminah Abdullah, the only woman in the contest, however, said her quarrel is not with Mansor.
“Personally, we are on good terms with Mansor, but we have grievances with the party especially the Penang leadership,” Aminah’s campaign manager and husband Mohd Rofi Osman said.
A former Bukit Bendera KeAdilan chief himself, Rofi quit the party in 2007 — the same year Aminah did.
“We will be focusing on door-to-door canvassing, because ceramahs don’t really work with voters here,” said Aminah.
On the other side of the ex-party divide is former Teluk Wang Gerakan youth chief Nai Khan Ari Nai Keow.
“I quit the party on 19 May because even though the BN did not want to contest in Penanti, I did,” he told reporters, adding that he was not sponsored by the BN.
The Thai Malaysian local said, “I was a member of Gerakan for three years, and I did not leave because I had problems with the party, but because my desire to contest was that strong.”
Nai Khan Ari said his selling point would be his multi-cultural advantage, being able to speak Thai, Chinese, English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Kamarul Ramizu Idris, however, is still part of a party, albeit a yet-to-be recognised one — Parti Iman SeMalaysia (PIS).
“I contested in Bukit Gantang and lost, but I am contesting again in Penanti because I want to spread the word of PIS,” he told reporters after nominations closed.
When asked if he would consider also contesting in Manik Urai, Kelantan, he said, “Maybe that’s a little too far.”
Like Nai Khan Ari and Aminah, Kamarul also said he was a truly independent candidate, not sponsored by any established political party.
When asked what his campaign logo was, he said it was the same as the one he used in Bukit Gantang — the umbrella.
“The umbrella has many uses. In Taiping, it was because that is a place with very high rainfall. Penanti now is very hot, and an umbrella would be useful here too,” he said.
Aminah’s campaign logo is a key, while Nai Khan Ari’s logo is a wau bulan (traditional kite).
When asked how he planned to sway voters to his side, PKR’s Mansor simply said, “I promise to serve the people.”
On how he would try to persuade voters to come out and cast their ballots on 31 May, he said, “That’s the job of the party’s machinery.”
Polling day is on 31 May.
The by-election is being held following the resignation of incumbent assemblyperson and former Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.
Penanti has 15,384 registered voters, 72.68% of whom are Malay Malaysians, 24.22% Chinese Malaysians, 2.39% Indian Malaysian and 0.71% from other communities. Favicon