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Hulu Selangor’s four-corner fight

(Updated at 6:50pm, 17 April 2010)

THE Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election will be a four-corner fight between the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s “compromise candidate” P Kamalanathan, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, and two independents.

The pro-reform Zaid, 59, and the MIC’s information chief Kamalanathan, 44, will be the key rivals to watch. But the contest also appears to be a grudgefest for independents Chandran Sellapan@VS Chandran and Johan Mohd Diah.

Chandran, 56, is a suspended MIC member, and was deputy Hulu Selangor division chief for six years before falling out with the party leadership last year over his criticism of deputy president Datuk G Palanivel. He’s adamant, however, that he’s not contesting out of spite, but to serve the constituency.

“The last MIC MP (Member of Parliament) did nothing, and when I complained to the party, they took action against me instead of him,” Chandran said.

Palanivel was Hulu Selangor MP for four terms until PKR won the seat narrowly in the 2008 national elections. Chandran, speaking to reporters at the nomination centre in Kuala Kubu Baru after being announced as a candidate, also criticised president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu for refusing to relinquish power.

As for Johan, 31, the Selangor Umno member says he was upset with the BN leadership’s decision to let the MIC field a candidate in Hulu Selangor. Umno and the MIC had been in a very public spat over the choice of candidate: certain Umno grassroots called for a Malay Malaysian candidate, while the MIC insisted on re-fielding Palanivel.

“Saya masih seorang ahli Umno. Tetapi saya terkorban. Saya nak [pada] hari ini menjadi seorang Jebat terkorban dalam Umno. Saya nak selepas ini banyak lagi Jebat yang muncul,” Johan told reporters. He said he was willing to be expelled from Umno as stipulated in its constitution for members who campaign against the party.

Potential fifth candidate scuttled?

Nominations were filed from 9am to 10am at the Dewan Serbaguna dan Sukan Daerah Hulu Selangor in Kuala Kubu Baru town. There were no objections to any of the four candidates, returning officer Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan said after the objection period ended at 11am.

There would have been a fifth independent had teacher Anuraadha Jeyasingam, 40, been able to file her nomination. She told reporters outside the centre that she arrived before the nomination period ended at 10am, but was not allowed to register her candidacy.

“It’s a ploy by the BN and the police who stopped me,” said the former MIC member who left for a short stint with the People’s Progressive Party.

Anuraadha said she would ask her supporters to now vote for PKR’s candidate. She claimed she had around 6,000 votes behind her.

Nomination dynamics

The morning started out calmly as supporters on both sides gathered at their respective meeting points. The BN’s supporters gathered at a mosque about 1km from the nomination centre, and the PR’s near shops on the fringe of the Kuala Kubu Baru town centre.

Barbed wire on the road leading to the nomination centre kept supporters out of bounds, and over a hundred uniformed police personnel were on guard.

Of all the candidates, Zaid arrived at the centre the earliest, and filed his papers at 9:06am. Kamalanathan arrived later with a big entourage of BN leaders, several of whom blamed their contingent’s delay on entanglements with the barbed wire police had laid along roads leading to the centre. Samy Vellu was reportedly among those who fell and cut himself on the barbed wire.

Kamalanathan filed his papers at 9:30am, and the two independents minutes after him.

Party faithful on both sides shouted, cheered and chanted in support of their candidates. But this show of force was by supporters from outside the constituency here to lend moral support. The people of Hulu Selangor will be the ones to decide at the polls on 25 April 2010.

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