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Simultaneous by-elections for security reasons (Updated 3:46pm)

(Updated 3:46pm)

PUTRAJAYA, 13 Feb 2009: The Bukit Gantang parliamentary and Bukit Selambau state by-elections will be held simultaneously for security reasons, Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said today.

It is also to avoid long campaigning.

“When the campaigning is too long, all sorts of issues will crop up and this can cause public anxiety and may also threaten public order or security in certain areas or national security.

“The EC is also thinking of the parties that are campaigning. We don’t want them to campaign for too long because it will cause fatigue,” he told a news conference to announce the by-election dates.

Nomination is on 29 March and polling on 7 April, in the event of contests.

The Bukit Gantang seat in Perak fell vacant after incumbent Roslan Shaharum of PAS died of a heart attack on 9 Feb. On the same day, V Arumugam of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) resigned as Bukit Selambau assemblyperson.

Asked whether the dates were chosen to accommodate the Umno general assembly on 24-28 March, Abdul Aziz said “Not at all.

On the resignation of Arumugam, he said the EC confirmed the resignation after studying the notice from the Kedah state assembly speaker informing it of the vacancy and the documents attached to the notice, information from the Kedah legal advisor and the legal views of the Attorney-General Chambers.

“All the documents were valid and genuine and there were no doubts,” he said.

He also said that the EC had agreed to the formation of three enforcement teams, each comprising an enforcement officer, a police officer, a representative of the local authority and the candidates’ representatives, to monitor the campaigning and the putting up of campaign materials.

The EC had also agreed to allow the Malaysia For Free and Fair Election (MAFREL) movement to be observers in the by-elections, he added.

Meanwhile, the DAP Socialist Youth (Dapsy) has come out to condemn the EC’s move to hold the by-elections in April.

Dapsy chairperson and member of parliament for Rasah Loke Siew Fook, in a statement today, questioned the EC on why such a long period of time — 58 days — was needed to hold the by-election in both constituencies.

“Did they purposely fix a date later than the Umno General Assembly so that Umno leaders in particular their in-coming president Datuk Seri Najib Razak could be spared of any humiliation in case BN lost in the by-election?

“Do you think it was a coincidence that nomination falls one day after Umno General Assembly?” wondered Loke before slamming the EC for acting in an unprofessional manner which “reinforced the perception that it is not in any way independent”. — Bernama


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