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Three-way fight for Bukit Gantang (Updated 11.25am)

Updated at 11.25am, 29 March 2009

PAS and BN flags get motorists’ attention at a traffic junction in Bukit Gantang

TAIPING, 29 March 2009: Groups of party supporters have begun to gather at the nomination centre for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election.

BN supporters making their stand to uphold the institution of
the Malay rulers

The Barisan Nasional (BN) is fielding Kampung Kubu Umno deputy branch chairperson Ismail Saffian, 40, while PAS is fielding its embattled Perak Menteri Besar and Pasir Panjang assemblyperson Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin, 52. Polling is on 7 April.


The Bukit Gantang parliamentary constituency has an electorate of 55,562. The by-election is necessitated by the death of its Member of Parliament (MP) Roslan Shahrom, from PAS, on 9 Feb.

In the general election in March last year, Roslan defeated the BN’s Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Zabidi Roslan by a majority of 1,566 votes, while an independent candidate, M Mogan, secured only 882 votes and lost his deposit.

Bernama reports that the police closed up five roads leading to Taiping town — Jalan Sultan Mansur, Jalan Kota, Jalan Taming Sari, Jalan Temenggong and Jalan Berek — at 6am.

7.30am: BN and PAS supporters have begun assembling about 100m from the nomination centre at the Taiping Municipal Council Hall. The police and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) are conducting roll call and taking up their positions near the centre.

7.50am: PAS supporters edge closer to the BN group. The rival groups are about 50m apart and are taunting each other. They are supposed to march to the nomination centre on separate routes. PAS supporters move back behind their designated line after being asked to do so by some 20 FRU officers.

8.15am: Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar Datuk Mohamad Hasan, Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin are seen among the BN supporters.

This supporter of PAS candidate, Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar
Jamaluddin, is dressed for the occasion

8.30am: PAS secretary-general Datuk Kamaruddin Jaafar and Kuala Terengganu MP Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut are here with the PAS supporters. Abdul Wahid puts PAS’s chances of winning at 60:40.

8.32am: The Edge Malaysia reports that a helicopter is hovering above the nomination centre to monitor the situation.

8.40am: PAS candidate, Nizar, and party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang arrive and are greeted with loud cheers from the supporters. There are about 5,000 PAS supporters at this time.

8.45am: Nizar, the first candidate to arrive, enters the nomination centre. Nomination papers have to filed between 9am and 10am.

8.50am: DAP leaders turn up to lend support. Among them are secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, party adviser Lim Kit Siang, M Kulasegaran, Perak DAP chief Ngeh Koo Ham and secretary Nga Kor Ming. Guan Eng says it’s a close fight as the BN would use all means or tricks to win.

PAS supporters on their side of the line

9.05am: BN candidate Ismail arrives. The crowd of BN supporters has also grown.

9.10am: Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin arrives and enters the nomination centre with Ismail, Zahid and current Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir arrives alone. Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib and Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam are also present outside the nomination center to show support.

9.15am: The PAS crowd has grown to about 10,000. The rival party supporters are kept apart by a sports field in front of the nomination centre. The PAS supporters are spread out on a hill, which makes it a little easier to estimate the size of the crowd. It’s difficult to estimate how big the BN crowd is, as the line of supporters on the road stretches to about 1km.

9.30am: Singing and shouting competition on both sides of the field. BN supporters yell out, “When will you return the Camry?” PAS supporters are singing “Inilah Barisan Kita” but with revised lyrics that say “Itulah barisan rasuah yang malas berjuang …” BN banners read “Daulat Tuanku,” “Hidup Zambry Menteri Besar Perak” and “PAS bersekongkol dengan DAP.”

9.40am: PAS supporters chant “Rasuah, rasuah, rasuah!” The Edge Malaysia reports that the chant grew louder when Khairy walked towards them.

10am: Nomination period closes. The next hour is for objections to be raised. Three people have submitted their nomination papers: Nizar, Ismail and independent candidate Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

10.30am: The Edge Malaysia reports that Nizar expects the derhaka issue to be raised during the campaign. “[We] were expecting that right from the beginning but we have our own ways of rebutting that. People don’t easily buy that anymore,” he said.

10.35am: The Edge Malaysia reports that Umno VP Zahid has walked over to the opposition tent to talk to the opposition leaders.

11.10am: DAP chairperson Karpal Singh arrives to join the opposition leaders. He says Umno supporters threw water bottles at his van earlier. “They hit the screen. Nobody was hurt. The police saw but did nothing.”

11.20am: Election Commission confirms that nominations for all three candidates have been accepted. The Edge Malaysia reports that three objections were received but none was accepted.

11.50am: The three candidates — Ismail, Kamarul and Nizar — leave the nomination centre. The supporters are also dispersing. As they leave, they are chanting and shouting their support for their respective candidates or jeers at their rivals.

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