Updated 7.57pm, 18 May 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, 18 May 2009: Barisan Nasional will not contest the Penanti by-election which it deems a “political game” by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the BN supreme council had unanimously decided against contesting the 31 May by-election today on the grounds that the vacancy caused by former Penanti assemblyperson Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin was not provided for in the Federal Constitution.
“The vacancy is not provided for in the constitution but is just PKR wanting to solve its internal problem. BN places more importance on serving the people and managing the economy. As such, we will not field a candidate,” Najib said at a press conference after the BN meeting.
Najib had earlier indicated that the BN would likely not contest in Penanti, calling it a waste of funds. BN’s position is that by-elections should only be held according to reasons provided in the constitution, which included death or resignation due to bankruptcy.
Other BN politicians have accused PKR of creating by-elections to shore up support for Pakatan Rakyat.
To a question on whether the boycott would signal a fear of losing, Najib said it was untrue as BN would still face voters there in the next general election.
“We will continue to serve the people there,” he added.
He also said it was not the first time BN had sat out of a by-election. In 1975, BN did not contest the Menglembu by-election.
Fairus had quit his Penanti seat on 16 April after stepping down as Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1. His resignation was initially believed to be due to impending corruption charges, but he was subsequently cleared.
On 28 April, PKR announced that it was fielding its Penang deputy liaison committee chairperson, Dr Mansor Othman, 56, as the party’s candidate in the by-election.
It is widely speculated that Mansor will be appointed the new DCM1 if he wins the by-election. He is said to be favoured by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over two other existing PKR Malay Malaysian assemblypersons — state executive councillor Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim, who holds the Batu Maung seat, and Sungai Bakap assemblyperson Maktar Shapee.
Mansor is likely to face former Penang PKR Wanita chief Aminah Abdullah, who has announced plans to stand as an independent.
Meanwhile in PENANG, the Election Commission (EC) has sold four nomination forms for the Penanti by-election, said its director, Morat Pora.
“The forms are sold for RM20 each. However, we don’t know who these forms are for because anyone can buy them,” he told Bernama here today.
He said one of the forms was bought by Aminah Abdullah.
He was unsure if PKR’s Mansor Othman was among those who had bought the forms.