Corrected on 25 Aug 2009 at 10.20pm
Updated at 10.35pm on 25 Aug 2009
Mohd Salleh Man celebrates his victory
PERMATANG PASIR, 25 Aug 2009: PAS has retained the Permatang Pasir state seat with a majority of 4,551 votes in a straight fight against the Barisan Nasional (BN).
PAS candidate Mohd Salleh Man won the by-election with 9,618 votes against the BN’s Rohaizat Othman, who garnered 5,067 votes. Voter turnout was 73% out of the total 20,290 registered voters. There were 83 spoilt votes.
It is seventh-time lucky for Salleh, the Penang PAS commissioner, who has contested and lost previously in six elections.
PAS’s majority was reduced by 882 votes compared to the 5,433 majority obtained in the March 2008 general election. Total voter turnout last year was 82%.
(Corrected) This time, PAS’s share of total votes cast is 65.1%, compared to 65.5% in the 2008 general election.
PAS by-election operations director Datuk Mahfuz Omar attributed the lower turnout to polling day today being held on a working day.
“It shows that Pakatan Rakyat is united in going all out to defend this seat. It is a clear message to Umno that the people want change. It is also clear that the people don’t want leaders without integrity,” he told reporters, referring to the BN’s fielding of Rohaizat despite him being a disbarred lawyer.
Salleh (Courtesy of theSun)
Salleh thanked voters and supporters, and said his win had kept Pakatan Rakyat (PR) intact in Penang.
“PAS will ensure that Pakatan will continue to be a force in Penang. The three parties are close and have worked hard to secure this victory,” he told reporters.
The results were announced by Election Commission returning officer Roslan Yahaya at the vote tallying centre at the National Youth Skills Training Institute on Jalan Berapit. Polling began earlier today at 8am and ended at 5pm.
Unofficial results were trickling out as early as 5.30pm with PAS in the lead. Salleh arrived at the vote tallying centre with Mahfuz and other PAS leaders with little fanfare at around 7pm. There were no BN politicians or supporters in sight.
PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the win was “humbling” in view of the attacks by the BN on the PR’s partnership in states like Perak and Selangor, and attempts to divide the three-party coalition.
“We are humbled by the rakyat’s insistence for change,” he said.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, arriving later at the vote-tallying centre, said PAS’s win would help the PR state government be “people-centric” and serve all races better. Lim also dismissed the Manik Urai by-election results, where PAS won by a slim majority, as an isolated event.
Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said tonight he was disappointed that the constituents of Permatang Pasir did not vote for change in the by-election today, Bernama reports
The Umno deputy president said voters could have become too comfortable so as not to want development.
However, Muhyiddin said the BN respected the people’s decision, and extended his congratulations to Mohd Salleh.
The deputy prime minister cited several factors for the BN’s defeat, including the PR’s character assassination of Rohaizat.
He also said that Permatang Pasir was located within the parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh which was a stronghold of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Muhyiddin, however, noted that there was a slight reduction in the support for the PR coalition.
He said BN would analyse the reasons for its defeat in terms of the support from the Malay, Chinese and Indian Malaysian voters so as to improve its performance in the next general election.
He expressed confidence that the BN would regain the people’s support gradually under the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and reminded the Permatang Pauh Umno division to work hard to get closer to the constituents.
Rohaizat said he would continue to serve the constituents in reciprocating the support of the people who had voted for him.
Rohaizat is the secretary of the Permatang Pauh Umno division.
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