August 16, 2008 (at 3.00 pm)
The convoy of cars and SUVs which accompanied Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail left his residence at Cherok Tok Kun, not far from Bukit Mertajam at 8.00 am sharp for the nomination center at the Tuanku Bainun Teachers College in Seberang Jaya.
By the time we arrived at the place 30 minites later, it was jam packed since very early morning with some 120,000 people from all walks of life, who have come from various parts of Malaysia as far as Sabah and Sarawak, to witness the official start of the by-election for the Parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh.
More than 95 per cent of those who braved the intense heat of the sun were KeADILan/Pakatan Rakyat supporters. They were energised by the sounds and beat of drums and percussion instruments of Indian and Chinese community and inspired by the winds of change which Anwar represents.
The UMNO-Barisan supporters were overwhelmed by the strong presence of “Anwar’s people”, a clear sign that public support for the ruling government was at an all time low. They were jeered by the crowd. The Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak was not spared as the crowd greeted him with shouts of “pembunuh”(murderer) and “Altantuya!, Altantuya!”. Shahrizat “Jihad” Abdul Jalil, Mukhriz Tun Mahathir and UMNO Treasurer Azim Zabidi, among other BN and UMNO leaders, too received uncomplimentary remarks from the crowd.
Pakatan Rakyat leaders Tok Guru Nik Aziz, Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, MB Selangor Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng of Penang , however, were warmly greated by the crowd. Special cheers were given to hometown favorite, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as his car entered the compound of the Teachers’ College.
Bloggers like Raja Petra and his wife Marina Abdullah, Sam Haris Ibrahim, Benard Khoo and members of Kuala Lumpur based civil society groups were present. They mingled in the crowd. The bulky and formidable Bala, a keen supporter of Nurul Izzah Anwar, our dynamic Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai, was seen among a group of Makal Sakti/Hindraf supporters. Overall, it was a spectacle unseen before in the history of Malaysian elections.
To the credit of all concerned, especially the Officers and men of our Royal Malaysian Police and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) and marshalls of PKR and Pakatan Raykat, the crowd was orderly and well disciplined.
There is no doubt in my mind that this by-elections would be for the Pakatan Rakyat to lose. But given the Pakatan election machinery, PKR grassroots organisation in Permatang Pauh, and election strategists led by Party Vice President Azmin Ali which went into full gear following Datuk Seri Wan Azizah’s resignation in late July to make way for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the outcome may be a foregone conclusion, that is, Dato Seri Anwar will be in Parliament on August 27.
That said, PKR party officials led by Vice President Azmin Ali and Penang Liaison Chief Dato Zahrain Mohammed Hashim, the Pakatan Rakyat election oganisation and their workers and volunteers were not taking anything for granted, given the clearly demonstrated capacity of UMNO-Barisan Nasional political machine and official agencies of the government to cheat and bribe voters and use dirty politics.
When the formalities were completed at noon, the returning officer announced that there would be a three-corned fight (see the Malaysiakini report). Ten minutes later, the rain came down.–Din Merican
Permatang Pauh By-Elections–Nomination Day, August 16, 2008
It is not going to be a straight fight between PKR and Barisan Nasional for the Permatang Pauh by-election on Aug 26. In fact it will be a three-cornered fight.
It could have been a four-cornered fight but PKR ‘spare tyre’ Dr Mansor Othman pulled out of the race during the objection period.
His candidacy was part of a PKR contingency plan in the event of Anwar’s nomination being rejected.
As it stands now, PKR’s Anwar looks a sure bet to win this seat which was vacated by his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail on July 31. It was a move to get Anwar back into Parliament after an absence of 10 years.
His most potent challenger is still BN’s Arif Shah Omar Shah, a local man just like Anwar, as well as the incumbent Seberang Jaya state representative.
The third candidate is Hanafi Hamat, the president of PAS splinter party Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim).
Arif Shah, 51, was the first to submit his nomination form.
Dressed in a yellow baju Melayu, he was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to the nomination centre at Dewan Aminuddin Baki of the Tuanku Bainun Teaching Institute.
He submitted his nomination papers to returning officer Roslan Yahaya as soon as the centre opened at 9am.
‘I feel good’
He was followed by Anwar who wore a light blue baju Melayu. The opposition icon once again exuded confidence in winning the seat as he entered the nomination centre at about 9.05am.
“I feel good”, Anwar replied when asked by Malaysiakini how he felt about contesting again after 10 years in hiatus.
Senior to Arif Shah by 10 years, Anwar was the Permatang Pauh division chief at the time the former was its youth chief.
Anwar was sacked from Umno and government in 1998 and was subsequently charged and convicted on corruption and sodomy charges. He was released in 2004 and his political ban expired last April.
At the nomination centre today, the former deputy premier looked cheerful in the presence of his wfe, children, Pakatan leaders and thousands of his supporters.
Also present was PAS’ spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat, who despite being unwell still insisted on being there.
BN also had a strong presence. Seen lending their support today were Gerakan acting president Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who is also Penang BN chairperson, MIC president S Samy Vellu, MCA vice-president Ong Tee Keat, BN Youth chief Hishammuddin Hussein, Wanita Umno vice-head Shahrizat Jalil and Umno information head Muhammad Muhamad Taib.