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Nomination day in Bukit Selambau (Updated at 11.40am)

Party flags lining a road in Bukit Selambau

Updated on 29 March 2009 at 11.40am

SUNGAI PETANI, 29 March 2009: The electoral process for the Bukit Selambau by-election kicks off this morning with the nomination of candidates.

Up to 14 candidates are expected to file their nomination papers today with the Election Commission (EC) between 9am and 10am. A dozen out of that 14 are independent candidates.

After the nomination papers are filed, objections can be lodged against the candidates. Between 11am and noon, the EC’s returning officer will decide on the objections, after which an announcement will be made about who qualifies to run in the elections.

The 7 April by-election for this state seat in Kedah is being held following the resignation of assemblyperson V Arumugam on 8 Feb.

In the 2008 general elections, Arumugam won the Bukit Selambau seat by defeating Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate S Krishnan with a majority of 7,695 votes.

Arumugam later joined Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and was appointed a state executive council member.

At the nomination centre at Sekolah Menengah Teknik Sungai Petani 1 this morning, candidates started arriving as early as 7am.

7.45am Approximately 60 Federal Reserve Unit are lined up in front of the nomination centre. Several Black Marias are on standby. Three independent candidates have already arrived at the centre.

The three candidates are Husaini Yaacob, 44, who arrived at 7am, T Chandrarajan, 40, who arrived at 7.30am and Major (Rtd) Anuar Abdul Hamid, 58, who turned up in full baju Melayu.

8.08am A group of 30 supporters of independent candidate Chandrarajan hold up banners and shout “Hidup, Chandrarajan!” outside the police barricades. The supporters are very peaceful. They are mostly male Indian Malaysians. But there are some women, Chinese and Malay Malaysians.

Chandrarajan is an insurance company director originally from Raub, Pahang.

8.21am There is a lot of confusion because of the high number of candidates involved in this by-election. Three other independent candidates have reportedly since showed up. They are Vaneson Michael, 34, S Moganakumar, 43, and Abdul Rahim Abu, 47.

8.32am A light drizzle has begun. Chinese drums and chants of “Reformasi!” accompany a multi-racial PKR procession to the nomination centre. The candidate for PKR is S Manikumar.  Asked how he feels, Manikumar says, “Very fine!”

The PKR procession is estimated to be a 1,000 people-strong.

8.48am L Sarala’s supporters are also at the nomination centre. The 34-year-old is the only woman candidate vying to contest in the by-election. Tellingly, her group of 30 supporters are mostly Indian Malaysian women of all ages.

8.55am At the 2,000-strong BN procession, a shout of “Hidup Pak Lah!” was greeted with laughter. The chant was then changed to “Hidup Najib!” The BN supporters are also chanting, “Hidup BN! Hapuskan Keadilan dan parti pungkok (backside)!”, referring to PKR.

Among the BN leaders in its ranks are Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and Wanita chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and vice-presidents Datuk Liow Tiong Lai and Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen, and MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu.

The PKR crowd has swelled to 3,000 supporters by one estimate. Among the Pakatan Rakyat leaders in the PKR procession are DAP national deputy chairperson Dr Tan Seng Giaw and national Wanita chief Chong Eng, PKR vice-president Azmin Ali and PAS information chief Mahfuz Omar.

9.50am The media are denied access into the nomination hall but it is confirmed that 15 candidates have entered to file their nomination papers.

10.10am The EC has received a record-breaking 15 nominations for the Bukit Selambau by-election, out of which 13 are independents. The one-hour period for objections to be made against the potential candidates ends at 11am.

11.05am EC returning officer Datuk Abdullah Mat Akhir says no objections have been filed against the 15 candidates.

The confirmed 15 candidates now have to vie for their positions on the ballot paper. The 13 independent candidates have to also vie for the symbols they can use in their campaigning that will be determined by the EC. The BN and PKR candidates don’t have that issue because their symbols are already registered.

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