HULU Selangor voters will today choose a new Member of Parliament in the nation’s 10th by-election since the 2008 general election.
They were at the polls beginning at 8am today. Voting ends at 5pm. The 799 postal ballots for police and armed forces personnel were cast over two days beginning 22 April 2010. The Election Commission said final results could be expected by as early as 9:30pm tonight.
Voters will decide between the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s P Kamalanathan from MIC and the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Neither is registered to vote in this constituency, but both toured Hulu Selangor this morning, stopping at polling centres to meet supporters and voters.
Strictly speaking, campaigning is forbidden by law on polling day. That did not stop supporters from both sides who lined the roads leading to voting centres to persuade voters on their way in.
Campaigning, which lasted a week, has been a tight race with the battle focused on winning the Malay Malaysian vote.
In the final days before polling today on 25 April, both the BN and PKR relied on big guns like former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the BN, and PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat for the PR to speak at ceramah.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak also toured the constituency in the two days before polling, breaking convention that the prime minister does not campaign. Najib’s explanation was that he campaigned in his capacity as the Selangor Umno liaison chief.
The campaign has been shaped by personal attacks against both candidates by the rival party. The BN has charged Zaid with immorality over his past drinking and ownership of a racehorse. PKR has painted Kamalanathan as an Umno stooge.
Both candidates’ parties have also made development promises and delivered by-election goodies. Hulu Selangor remains an underdeveloped constituency with abandoned shoplots, factories and houses from a building spree in the 1990s which failed to revive the local economy. Pockets of poverty are also rife throughout the area, estate workers being the worst affected.
With PKR elected to head the state in 2008, this by-election has been dubbed as a referendum on the state government. The BN is also calling it a vote for Najib’s policies after one year in office.
In March 2008, PKR won the seat with a slim majority of 198 votes, defeating MIC candidate Datuk G Palanivel, who had retained the seat for four terms. PKR MP Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad‘s death on 25 March forced this by-election.
There are 64,500 registered voters in Hulu Selangor, Selangor’s largest constituency. Malay Malaysians comprise 53% of the electorate, Chinese Malaysians 27%, and Indian Malaysians 19%.
Hulu Selangor assessment and strategies
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What Indian Malaysian voters want
Saving Parliament from the EC
BN’s “nice guy” offer for Hulu Selangor
On the Hulu Selangor trail
Irrelevant PR rhetoric
Is Zaid’s drinking relevant?
Campaign delusions and contradictions
Hulu Selangor’s significance
What will Kamalanathan do?
Hulu Selangor’s four-corner fight
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