|Batu Talam by-election on Jan 28|
|The by-election for the Batu Talam state seat will be held on Jan 28, with nomination day fixed for Jan 16.Announcing this today, Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman said candidates contesting in the by-election would have 12 days to campaign.The Batu Talam state seat fell vacant following the demise of its representative Tengku Paris Tengku Razlan, 66, due to rectal cancer last Wednesday.
In the 2004 general election, Tengku Paris edged PAS candidate Mohamed Nilam Abdul Manap by 2,761 votes. There were 10,866 registered voters then.
This time round, there is a slight drop in the number of eligible voters – 10,525 – including 14 postal voters who are all policemen serving in the constituency.
“The number has decreased because we managed to trace voters who had died… we want to make sure nobody votes on their behalf,” remarked Abdul Rashid at a press conference in Putrajaya this morning.
To a question on past by-elections which saw opposition supporters stopping buses from entering the electoral constituency, Abdul Rashid advised such individuals not to do so and let the courts decide on allegations of phantom voters.
“It (phantom voting) can’t happen. How can we bring voters from elsewhere to vote for others?” he said.
‘We can’t take action’
Abdul Rashid expects results to be announced by about 10pm as there will be only 23 polling stations and 12 polling centres. He added that there should be no communication problems under such circumstances.
He also advised political parties to ‘limit’ the use of posters during campaigning to a ‘reasonable’ number.
“People are already familiar with the parties that contest,” he added.
A total of RM100,000 have been budgeted for running the by-election.
To a question, Abdul Rashid reiterated that the law does not allow the EC to take action against those who overspend the RM100,000 limit for campaigning.
“After the election, candidates have to submit accounts to us and we gazette the expenditure that is meant for the opponent to examine. That is (according) to the law,” he explained.
On election watchdog Malaysians for a Free and Fair Elections’ (Mafrel) 30-point recommendations to the commission, Abdul Rashid expressed his gratitude for their effort, but with reservations.
“Some are good, but some are doubtful. But it’s okay. It’s good that there are people who care about the elections. We welcome that very much, but the way they do it is not right. We will make sure they do the right thing, because it helps the commission to identify its weaknesses,
“I have met them and I have to say ‘thank you’ for what they do, although they did not do it officially with our blessings. There must be rules… you cannot just gate-crash into polling stations. We are bound by the law. Only certain people may enter,”
In Kuala Berang, Barisan Nasional candidate Mohd Zawawi Ismail scored an easy win with a 2,059 majority.
In contrast, BN candidate Hanafi Mamat won a bitterly fought contest and came away with a wafer-thin majority of 134 votes in the nail-biting by-election in Pengkalan Pasir.
According to the 2004 general election figures, Malays make up the majority of voters (79%) followed by Chinese (11%), Indians (5%) and others ethnic groups (5%).