BN, PR, 2 independents fight for Hulu Selangor

By Adib Zalkapli and Clara Chooi (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA KUBU BARU, April 17 — Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) Datuk Zaid Ibrahim will defend the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat against Barisan Nasional’s (BN) P. Kamalanathan and two independents — V. Chandran and Johan Md Diah — in the April 25 by-election.
Returning officer Nor Hisham Md Diah confirmed them after no objections were received when the objection period ended at 11am. A fifth hopeful, J. Anuradha, claimed the police and the Election Commission (EC) blocked her from contesting and has now offered her support to PR after opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim spoke to her.
The by-election is Selangor’s first but the country’s 10th since Election 2008.
PR and BN supporters had crowded the nomination centre in Kuala Kubu Baru since morning to see candidates file their papers for the parliamentary seat that was left vacant on the death of PKR MP Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad, who won by a narrow 198 votes against four-term BN lawmaker Datuk G. Palanivel in 2008.
PKR, DAP and PAS make up the unofficial PR which won an unprecedented four more states and 82 federal seats in Election 2008, denying BN its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority.
PKR had named Zaid to convince Hulu Selangor’s 64,500 voters that it should continue returning the party to Parliament to keep the ruling BN in check. He was elected the Kota Baru MP in 2004 but was dropped by Umno in 2008.
“Nomination papers submitted. Will know by 12 noon if everything in order,” Zaid wrote in his Twitter microblogging account.
Zaid earlier arrived outside the nomination centre to join Anwar and Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who is the Hulu Selangor election director. He then entered the centre with his proposer and seconder when nominations opened at 9am.
Also with them were PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and other PR leaders.
Their supporters thronged outside the nomination centre and scuffled with police who had cordoned off the entire area. The PR supporters chanted “Reformasi” and “Hancur BN” to the tune of “When The Saints Go Marching In”, adding a festive air to the occasion.
However, police later moved their trucks between the PR and BN supporters when the opposing crowds got too near to each other.
Kamalanathan arrived at 9.20am with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Selangor Umno deputy chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. Others who joined them were Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, MCA vice-president Datuk Ng Yen Yen, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas.
There were some scuffles earlier and MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu injured his leg when he was pushed against some barbed wire. A few other MIC officials also suffered similar injuries.
Palanivel, the MIC deputy president, arrived after the nomination process was over and joined BN leaders at the nomination centre. He was earlier slated to represent BN but fractious negotiations between Umno and MIC saw his name dropped in favour of Kamalanathan.
Both the BN and PR candidates are fresh faces in Selangor and creating history of sorts by chronicling their campaign on the Twitter microblogging website.
“Historic first election in Malaysia w/ both main candidates on Twitter. @PKamalanathan for BN & @zaidibrahim for PKR. Follow them. #P94,” tweeted Khairy, himself an avid fan of the service.
Zaid himself described the excitement of the day in a tweet, adding hashtags to add the tweet to trending topics on the site.
“Good morning everyone. Big day today. Let’s make it count. Will need your support. Will tweet as often as possible. #fb #p94,” the lawyer-turned-politician tweeted.
The 44-year-old Kamalanathan, who leads the rebranding of MIC after its disastrous 2008 electoral outing, was also actively sending out messages using the Blackberry phone, now a standard accessory for politicians.
“Just arrived at KKB BN Centre. Thousands of BN supporters are here. Hidup BN! The first supporter I met came all the way from Sabah!” he tweeted.
The EC said some 37 nomination forms had been purchased ahead of the nomination which began at 9am at the Hulu Selangor Sports and Multipurpose Hall here.
Some 1,000 policemen were on duty to ensure a trouble-free nomination and they also implemented a one-way road system around the town to prevent congestion and to separate supporters of the two coalitions.
The respective delegations later left the nomination centre to begin their campaign until polling day. Both BN and PR are using a combination of personal visits and night-time ceramahs to get their message across to the voters.