Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nizar beats Barisan man with increased majority

The Star : Wednesday April 8, 2009

TAIPING: PAS’ Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin went from being a mentri besar to an MP when he won the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election with an increased majority of 2,789. He beat Barisan Nasional’s Ismail Saffian and independent Kamarul Ramizu Idris. The 52-year-old garnered 21,860 votes against Ismail’s 19,071. Kamarul Ramizu only managed to secure 62 votes and lost his deposit.

Nizar said the win showed people wanted openness and a good democratic system. “Only through the ballot can people tell the Government what they want,” he told reporters at a press conference, shortly after he was proclaimed the winner at the Taiping Municipal Council here.

On his next move, Nizar said he would again request for a dissolution of the Perak assembly to resolve the state’s constitutional crisis. He said he would also unify the Bukit Gantang people to work harmoniously with Pakatan Rakyat.

Ismail, 49, was the only local candidate in this three-cornered contest. Nizar, who hails from Kampar, is a registered voter in Pasir Panjang in the southern part of Perak. Ismail said he accepted the results of the polls.

”Now, it is time for Nizar to act on the promises he has made to the people here,” he said.

Barisan’s hopes of increasing its support by fielding a local candidate did not materialise. The coalition managed to get 622 more votes compared with the 18,449 votes it secured in 2008 general election. PAS, through Nizar, who was said to have banked on sympathy votes after the Barisan takeover of the state, improved its vote count by 1,845 compared with the general election votes.

The by-election – largely seen as a referendum on Barisan’s move to capture the state from Pakatan Rakyat by getting three state assemblymen to quit the pact – was called following the death of PAS MP Roslan Shaharum in February. Roslan had scored an upset over Umno’s Datuk Abdul Azim Zabidi with a majority of 1,566 votes in 2008. Intermittent rain did not deter voters from coming out to exercise their rights. Turnout was 75.1% or 41,626 of the total 55,562 registered voters, slightly higher than the 72.65% in 2008.

However, it was the highest ever turnout for the constituency since it was created in 1986. In the last six elections, the average turnout was only 70%. The semi-rural parliamentary constituency is made up of the three state constituencies of Changkat Jering, Trong and Kuala Sepetang. – The Star

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