KUALA KRAI, 14 July 2009: Some 76.2% or 9,359 of 12,293 voters have cast their votes in the Manik Urai state by-election as of 1pm, Election Commission (EC) chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said.
Describing the percentage as “very good”, he said, it was the highest voter turnout in Peninsular Malaysia so far.
He said voter turnout could reach up to 90%, surpassing the EC’s target of 85%.
Polling has been brisk but has been marred by an incident involving supporters of both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR). They had milled around the entrance to the Sekolah Kebangsaan Peria polling station, taunting each other until the police was called in to restore calm.
Kelantan police chief Datuk Abd Rahim Hanafi said two party supporters were injured when they were hit by stones thrown by unidentified people at the polling station. Both supporters were sent to Kuala Krai Hospital.
Abdul Aziz was upset that an earlier agreement reached between the EC and the contesting parties that supporters stay at least 50m away from the polling stations was not followed.
“It appears that the EC’s advice and the agreement with the parties were not observed. We will have to keep this in mind in future by-elections and general elections,” he told reporters, after visiting the polling station where the incident took place.
Commenting on BN and PR supporters parading in cars with their respective party flags — an act that is prohibited — Abdul Aziz said the EC would seek the police’s help to overcome this.
Bernama also reported that PAS supporters used nasty and provocative language on Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when the deputy prime minister visited the polling district in Chuchoh Puteri and five other districts.
Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, said he was surprised that the PAS supporters could resort to such behaviour when they claimed to be championing Islam.
“It does not matter. Perhaps, I may get more rewards in the hereafter,” he told reporters after a visit to Chuchoh Puteri here.
Muhyiddin said the attitude of the PAS supporters could be driven by political sentiments and their desire to win the by-election at all costs, although it was contrary to Islamic principles.
Polling at the nine polling stations, comprising 27 polling streams, started at 8am. The weather was fine, and most of the voters who came out early were the elderly and the middle-aged.
The by-election is being held following the death of the incumbent from PAS, Ismail Yaacob, on 22 May 2009.
Polling will close at 5pm, after which the counting of votes will begin at the centres. The votes will then be tallied at the Dewan Petra, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Yahya Petra 1, here. The result is expected to be known as early as 8pm tonight. — Bernama
|Manek Urai: 84 percent turnout at 3pm|
Voting for the Manek Urai by-election kicked off at 8am today with the two contesting candidates – both of whom are not registered voters in the state constituency – visiting polling stations in the area.
Turnout was recorded at 83.89 percent or 10,312 votes as at 3pm, according to the Election Commission (EC).
EC chief Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the 85 percent target will be passed if the trend continues.
Voter will have nine hours, until 5pm, to cast their votes in this crucial by-election. The result is expected to be known by 8pm.
Umno is fielding its Kuala Krai Youth chief Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat, 39, as its candidate, while PAS is banking on its Kuala Krai treasurer, Mohd Fauzi Abdullah, 50.
Manek Urai has 12,293 voters of whom 99.2 percent are Malays; the others are Chinese and Indians.
The result will signal whether PAS and its revered 78-year-old Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat are able to maintain their grip over this east coast state which the Islamic party has been in power for 19 years.
Much is at stake too for Umno and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who is hoping that a victory will help to stem the tide of Pakatan Rakyat, which has won five of six by-elections since last year’s general election.
Nik Aziz, who arrived at the SK Perai polling station 10 minutes earlier than the party’s candidate Mohd Fauzi, had to wait for him.
On arrival at 8.10am, Mohd Fauzi kissed the hand of the menteri besar as a sign of respect as a dozen of supporters shouted “Allahuakhbar”.
Both politicians said they were confident of victory.
“I have met a large proportion of the voters and I think my chances of winning this by-election are as bright as the full moon,” quipped Mohd Fauzi, who was accompanied by his wife.
Traffic jam along main road
Nik Aziz’s announcement yesterday of a state-wide holiday has resulted in a carnival-like atmosphere in the constituency.
Traffic congestion started during the night, with vehicles seen heading here from Kuala Krai. The 27km trip from Kuala Krai to Manek Urai, which normally takes 40-50 minutes, took up to two hours yesterday.
Voters are casting their votes in nine polling centres – SK Temalir, SK Peria, SK Manek Urai, SK Manek Urai Baru, SK Sungai Sok, SK Chuchoh Puteri, SK Lata Rek, SK Kampung Karangan, and SMK Laloh.
The EC’s Abdul Aziz Yusof is hoping for a 85 percent turnout as 90 percent of the voters are local rubber tappers, farmers and fishermen.
According to him, there are 1,300 outstation voters while some political parties have claimed it could be as high as 2,000.
Abdul Aziz said the majority of the outstation voters reside within Kelantan and nearby Pahang. He said he hoped they will return to vote.
For the first time, political parties are not allowed to set up booths near the entrance to the polling centres.