(Updated 11.34pm, 17 Jan 2009)
Abdul Wahid Endut with his wife, and five of his nine children, outside the polling station at Sek Keb Pusat Chabang Tiga
KUALA TERENGGANU, 17 Jan 2009: PAS candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut has won the Kuala Terengganu by-election with a 2,631-vote majority in a spectacular win that wrested the seat away from the Barisan Nasional (BN).
He polled 32,883 votes in a tightly contested race against the BN’s Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, who only garnered 30,252 votes. Independent candidate Azharudin Mamat @ Adam managed to secure only 193 votes.
The streets of Kuala Terengganu were filled with jubilant cries and tooting vehicles as PAS supporters celebrated the victory.
Thanking voters for placing their trust in him, Wahid attributed his victory to his likely popularity as a five-term state assemblyperson for Wakaf Mempelam.
Wahid said he had many issues to raise in Parliament, including Terengganu’s oil royalty deficit.
He added that the results proved that PAS, DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which form the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, were a viable coalition. “We have worked very hard together and cooperated very closely.”
Final result of Kuala Terengganu by-election
|Candidate||Party||No. of votes|
Abdul Wahid Endut
Datuk Wan Ahmad
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, at the same press conference, said the by-election marked a shift in national politics.
“The voters have created a shift in the national landscape. The Election Commission has also shown they have changed in their conduct of this by-election.”
Hadi was referring to the resignation of the EC’s returning officer who withdrew from overseeing the by-election after allegations of bias.
Hadi said such openness had been possible under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership. Hadi expressed hope that Abdullah could continue leading the government.
“Yes, I want him to stay on beyond March to complete more reforms,” Hadi said, when asked if he meant that Abdullah should remain as prime minister after March, when he is due to transfer power to his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Opposition Leader and PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Wahid’s victory was proof the people were “thirsty for change”.
“The citizens of Kuala Terengganu have picked a candidate they are confident will, together with his Pakatan Rakyat colleagues in Parliament, work to realise the agenda for change,” he said in a press statement.
Outside the tallying centre in Kuala Terengganu, thousands of PAS supporters gathered to await Wahid’s emergence from the building. They erupted into cheers and shouts of “Allahuakhbar!” as he was lifted on the shoulders of those around him.
BN accepts defeat
Najib, who led the BN’s campaign in Kuala Terengganu, said the ruling coalition accepted the people’s decision.
Najib and Wan Farid at a press conference, 5 Jan 2009
“As a party that believes in the principle of democracy, we respect and abide by the people’s decision,” he said after Wahid was announced the victor.
To a question, he said it was too soon to say what factors led to the BN’s loss in a seat which they had won in the March 2008 general election by a 628-vote margin.
“For a by-election, there are many factors including local factors. So, not everything can be attributed to national politics,” he said.
“However, we need to take the results seriously and should study it in depth to determine the direction and future of Umno and the BN,” Najib added.
To another question about opposition claims that the loss in Kuala Terengganu would trigger an exodus of government MPs from the BN, he said, “No, no, they can say that, but the fact of the matter is that the BN is still in power in Terengganu and also in power at the national level.”
This is the second loss for the BN in a by-election after its two-third parliamentary majority was depleted by the results of the March 2008 general election.
In August 2008, Anwar stunningly defeated the BN in the Permatang Pauh by-election that was called after its MP, Anwar’s wife Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, quit to make way for him.
Najib admitted that the loss in Kuala Terengganu was a setback, but the BN would continue with its commitment to serve the people even better.
“At the end of the day, I believe the people will still trust BN to lead them,” he said, refuting suggestions that the loss would negatively affect the BN’s performance in the next general election.
Najib said the BN would do what it needed to review and reform its image and policies in order to win back the people’s trust.
The Kuala Terengganu by-election was called because its previous MP, BN’s Datuk Razali Ismail, passed away in November 2008.
|Voter statistics for results in Kuala Terengganu|
|March 2008||17 Jan 2009|
|Total no. of registered voters||80,325||80,229|
|Total no. of spoilt votes||931||665|
|Majority||628 (BN)||2,631 (PAS)|
See also: BN has lost the plot