Friday, February 13, 2009

Vote for by-elections fixed for April 7 - Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 — The Election Commission today fixed nomination day for the vacant Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat and Bukit Selambau state seat simultaneously for March 29. If there is a contest, voting will be held on April 7.

The nomination day is significant as it falls one day after Datuk Seri Najib Razak becomes Umno president. And polling will be held after Najib becomes PM.

Meanwhile, Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said a scandal-ridden Najib as Umno president will work to Pakatan Rakyat's advantage in both by-elections.

"Under normal circumstances, a new leader would be to Umno's advantage but in this case, because of the scandals connected to him and what he has done in Perak, it will be to our advantage," Ngeh said, referring to Najib's role in unseating the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak.

He was also hinting to persistent speculation linking Najib to abuse of power in the murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu and the billion-ringgit defence purchases.

"There have been so many allegations but he has not allowed any inquiry into them. So he has not cleared his name and it will be to his detriment," Ngeh said.

The senior state executive councillor in the Perak Pakatan Rakyat government expressed confidence that Najib's links to the scandals and what the coalition perceives as a coup d'etat in Perak will be to Barisan Nasional's detriment in both by-elections.

But DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang slammed the Election Commission for setting the date of the by-elections, saying its “another example of its craven subservience to serve Umno interests”.

“Clearly, the fractious and internecine Umno party elections until March 28 had been the primary consideration of the Election Commission when deciding on the two by-election dates,” he said in a statement, pointing out it will be held after Umno party elections and Najib officially taking over Umno and becoming prime minister.

“But these are the very considerations which an independent and self-respecting Election Commission has no business to take into account when fixing election dates, as it has only reinforced strong public perceptions that the Election Commission is a mere Umno creature at the beck and call of the top Umno leadership,” the Ipoh Timur MP said.

He also charged that in the six weeks of being the new Election Commission chairman, Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof made two decisions that have undermined public confidence in the independence, professionalism and integrity of the commission by rejecting the Perak state speaker’s decision on accepting the resignation of two lawmakers and by deciding the by-election dates for Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau.

“The Election Commission should reconsider to fix earlier by-election dates to demonstrate that it is not beholden to any political party’s dictates — even coming from Umno!” Lim declared.

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