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The battle begins (Updated 2.45pm)

(Updated 2.45pm, 6 Jan 2009)

KUALA TERENGGANU, 6 Jan 2009:  The Election Commission (EC) has confirmed that the 17 Jan 2009 Kuala Terengganu by-election will be a three-corner fight.

At 11.35am, EC returning officer Razali Kassim confirmed that the three candidates for the by-election would be the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, the Pakatan Rakyat’s Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut, and independent Azharudin Mamat @ Adam.

The EC dismissed four objections that were made after the candidates filed their nomination papers earlier.  

With the end of the nomination process in this parliamentary constituency, a close battle is shaping up between the BN and Pakatan Rakyat, spearheaded here by PAS.

Earlier this morning, the first to arrive at the nomination centre in Stadium Negeri in Kuala Terengganu was the BN’s Wan Ahmad Farid, who was greeted by about 1,000 BN supporters who had gathered outside the centre from as early as 8.30am.


Ahmad Farid (left) arriving at the nomination centre with Najib

He was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Md Isa Sabu and Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan. Also in the entourage were Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Ahmad Farid filed in his papers at 9am.

By 9.10am, PAS supporters shouting “Allahuakbar!” began to gather outside the centre as they waited for the arrival of the party’s candidate, five-term Wakaf Mempelam assemblyperson Abdul Wahid.

Heavy police presence and barricades kept the BN and PAS supporters 100m apart.

At 9.15am, Abdul Wahid walked in to file his nomination papers. He was accompanied by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s information chief Tian Chua, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, PAS Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad, and DAP Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong.

The number of PAS supporters surged and strained against the barrier, prompting the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) to reinforce their lines.

At 9.30am, Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim) vice-president Harun Abdul Rahman Mohd from Batu Buruk walked into the nomination centre, but caused a stir when he did not file in his papers.

Instead, in a hastily called press conference just outside the centre, Harun surprised everyone by asking voters to throw in their support behind PAS, because “our paths are headed in the same direction.”

“Islam is my course, and I am giving way to PAS,” he announced.

At 9.45am, Kuala Terengganu entrepreneur Azharudin Mamat @ Adam, 45, walked in alone to the nomination centre to file in his papers.

The nomination period ended at 10am, and one hour was allotted for parties to raise any objections to the candidates who have filed in their papers. The EC confirmed that only three candidates filed in their papers during the allotted period.

There was a carnival-like atmosphere outside the nomination centre, with PAS and BN supporters shouting slogans, singing party songs and beating drums.

PAS supporters taunted the BN supporters, shouting “Hancur BN! Hidup Islam!” and “Calon PAS bersih, jiwa bersih, hati suci!” Onlookers thronged the compound of Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah, directly opposite the nomination centre.

See also Nomination day in KT

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