SUNGAI PETANI, 7 Apr 2009: The Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s novice candidate S Manikumar trounced the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Datuk S Ganesan with a convincing 2,403-vote majority today in the Bukit Selambau by-election.
It was an increased majority compared with the results of the March 2008 general election where, independent-candidate-turned-Parti-Keadilan-Rakyat-member V Arumugam won by a 2,362-vote majority against the BN’s Krishnan Subramaniam.
In today’s by-election, Manikumar polled 12,632 votes to Ganesan’s 10,229 across 65 streams — including postal votes — in 22 voting districts.
The winner, PKR’s Manikumar
The record-breaking 13 independent candidates all lost their deposits. Major (Rtd) Anuar Abdul Hamid was the independent with the highest number of votes: 528.
The independents garnered a collective total of 1,326 votes. There were 415 spoilt votes.
The final official tally for the grueling by-election was announced by the Election Commission (EC) at 10.50pm tonight.
Speaking to reporters after the announcement of his victory, Manikumar thanked voters for giving him a chance. He also thanked the PAS and DAP machinery for helping his candidacy.
The 35-year-old debut politician from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) said he would open his service centre within 48 hours.
PKR vice-president Azmin Ali said the party’s 12,632 votes this time appeared fewer than independent V Arumugam’s 13,225 votes in the March 2008 general election because many votes were “taken” by the independents, and also because of the lower voter turnout.
The EC confirmed that voter turnout this time was 70.28% compared with 73.7% in March 2008.
GanesanAzmin also said that the PR’s victories in both Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau were a clear referendum against the BN federal administration, given the ascension of new Umno president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The MIC’s Ganesan was not present at the tallying centre, and neither were any BN leaders.
Not a rejection
Bernama reported Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as saying the BN’s failure to wrest back the Kedah state seat did not mean the people rejected the country’s new leadership.
He said there were several local and national factors that contributed to the BN’s loss.
“That (the people’s rejection of Najib as the new prime minister) is not the case, because he has only just taken over the leadership of the country and has not even announced his cabinet line-up yet.
“Give us some time. We’ll prove that the BN’s politics is not sensational or seasonal and centred on certain issues only, but is a struggle that is consistent and takes into consideration the needs and aspirations of the people,” he said at the BN election operations room here tonight.
He added that the defeat also served as a useful lesson for the BN to face the 13th general election, which must be held by 2012.