17 January, 2009

P 36 Kuala Trengganu By Election - a test of the Malaysian government's popularity ?

Latest: PAS Wins Kuala Terengganu By-Election

PAS candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut today won the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat by-election with a majority of 2,631 votes.

Prime Minister-in-waiting Najib said that the defeat in Kuala Terengganu should not be interpreted as the voters having spurned Barisan Nasional.

While Najib conceded that this was a setback for the ruling coalition, he nevertheless played down the importance of the by-election.

"We accept this defeat. This is the decision of the people. In a democratic system, the people's voice is supreme," he said.

"I am confident that in the end the people will be confident of BN," he added.

"We will continue with our commitment to serve people even better, to bring them to a greater and higher level of success."

He denied that the poll was a vote of no confidence on his leadership.

- Malaysiakini

Malaysiakini SMS News Alert:

" KT by election - BN IS LESDING PAS slightly in early count.As at 7 pm, both key candidates are at neck-and-neck .

Following the political tsunami in March, which propelled a disparate opposition alliance to power in five of 13 Malaysian states, voters in the capital of oil-rich Terengganu state will determine if an 'east coast monsoon' will drive the alliance closer to national power.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is leading the ruling Barisan Nasional's campaign, is seeking to use by-election to hammer home his credentials as prime minister-in-waiting.

The by-election is also being seen as a symbolic barometer as to whether Malaysians are willing to shed ideological differences in a longer-term bid to break the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front or BN) coalition's stranglehold on power.

The ballot for a vacant parliamentary seat in Kuala Terengganu, the capital of Terengganu state, pits the ruling coalition against the conservative Islamic party PAS, a member of the three-party opposition alliance.

Both sides have much to win and lose, with the Barisan Nasional coalition under pressure to show it has clawed back support since disastrous general elections when it lost a third of its parliamentary seats and five states.

A win for the Pakatan Rakyat opposition would provide momentum that has flagged since the March 2008 national polls and show it is working effectively despite claims the alliance of three very different parties is under strain.

"The whole process has been quite satisfactory. We are quite optimistic as of now," said PAS deputy president Nasaruddin Mat Isa, citing positive results from its exit polls.

"As of now we are optimistic,"

A senior official in UMNO which leads the Barisan Nasional said one of the four constituencies in the Kuala Terengganu electorate had fallen to PAS.

"I'm quite happy with the support shown by the Malay and Chinese voters," PAS candidate Mohammad Abdul Wahid Endut said as he stood alongside his wife and five of his nine children.

"Whether it turns into votes is another matter. I leave the outcome of this election to the voters and to Allah," he said.

Barisan Nasional candidate Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh also said he was confident voters would back him.

"I have faith in the voters, I know they will vote intelligently. They will vote for continuity, they will vote for BN," he said.

The alternative front has accused the ruling coalition of resorting to bribing voters to vote in the Barisan Nasional candidate.

Several newsmen in town to cover the Kuala Terengganu by-election were surprised to receive a mystery “angpow”, several days before the Chinese New Year.

White, unmarked envelopes containing RM300 in cash were handed out to some 10 to 13 reporters and photographers this afternoon, while they were working inside the government-provided media centre at Jalan Pejabat, across the road from the state government offices.



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