Updated 5.35pm on 25 Aug 2009
PERMATANG PASIR, 25 Aug 2009: Polling in Permatang Pasir ended at 5pm today with 73.1% or 14,832 voters, out of the 20,290 registered voters, having cast their ballots, the Election Commission (EC) said.
On Twitter, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang predicted a PAS win with a majority of 3,000 to 4,000 votes. Earlier in the day, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had predicted a PAS victory with a “satisfactory majority”.
In the March 2008 general election, PAS beat Umno for the seat with a 5,433-vote majority.
Voting today began at 8am, and traffic jams gripped certain parts of the constituency where schools, used as polling centres, were located along main roads. The presence of uniformed police was moderate, and there was little sign of the Federal Reserve Unit, a notable difference compared with the previous six by-elections in the past year.
As neither PAS’s Mohd Salleh Man nor the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Rohaizat Othman — the rival candidates — is registered to vote in Permatang Pasir, the media’s attention was turned to Anwar. He voted at Sek Keb Seri Penanti in Kubang Semang together with his wife, Parti Keadilan Rakyat president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. They were accompanied by Salleh, who, from there, continued on a tour of all polling stations to greet supporters and voters.
Rohaizat, too, made his rounds at polling stations with his wife Khairul Nisa Abdul Razak in tow. The BN candidate has been on the defence throughout his campaign from attacks about his disbarment from legal practice, and allegations that he married a second wife secretly. He has denied the allegations about a second wife, and has tried to downplay his disbarment by blaming his former legal firm partner.
Other BN and Pakatan Rakyat leaders were also moving around the constituency checking on the mood. Polling was relatively smooth, save for a few minor clashes between rival supporters. A few groups were also seen arguing with police, who were enforcing the rule banning the display of party logos near polling centres.
Notably missing in the vicinity of polling centres were the “pondok panas”, booths or canopies set up by the contesting parties for voters to check their status on the electoral roll. The EC has been stricter this time, enforcing the rules against this and only allowing voters to check their details at EC booths. In past elections, pondok panas were used in last-minute campaigning before voters proceeded to mark their ballots.
Also noticeable was the lack of vehicles sporting party flags and logos, which reduced somewhat the merriment of polling day.
Still, the rules have not stopped supporters from turning out in large numbers despite it being Ramadan, and from shouting themselves hoarse cheering and heckling.
The votes will be tallied at the National Youth Skills Training Institute on Jalan Berapit here. Results are expected by 8pm.