Thursday, 29 October 2009

Bodies of two missing girls found

The bodies of the two missing girls in the Kuala Dipang bridge tragedy have been found.

M. Devatharshini's body was found by a search and rescue team from Rela at about 11.30pm on Wednesday and that of V. Divyashree, 12, was recovered at about 9.25am today by a team from the army, the Star reported.

The body of 11-year-old Devatharshini was found in Tanjung Tualang about 16km from the incident site while Divyashree’s body was in Sungai Chenderiang near Tronoh Mines, 15km away.

Devatharshini is a pupil at SJK Tamil Mamban Diawan and Divyashree is from Sekolah Kebangsaan Tamil (SRJK) Gopeng.

Both girls drowned together with 11-year-old N. Dina Deve on Monday night after they and 20 other pupils fell into Sungai Kampar when a suspension bridge collapsed as they were crossing it.

They were with a group of 294 pupils, aged between 10 and 12, from 64 schools in the Kinta Selatan district attending a four-day 1Malaysia camp organised by the Education Ministry to foster better ties between the races.

The camp, which started on Monday, was held at the Kinta Selatan district education office co-curriculum centre in SK Kuala Dipang, Jeram, near here.

Those who survived the incident said they had supper at SK Kuala Dipang and were crossing the bridge to get to the campsite, when a few of them started jumping and shaking the bridge.

It was later found that a metal pillar anchoring the cable of the bridge was ripped off its concrete foundation, causing the bridge walkway, with those on it, to plunge into the river.

Some pupils fell into shallower waters and managed to wade out, while others were pulled out by a teacher who was nearby and ran to the scene of the incident.

The iron-cable bridge, suspended nine metres above the river, was built recently to replace an old one that had fallen apart with age.

My condolences to their families. May they rest in peace.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

The Perak State assembly sitting... another drama in the making? (Update)

Update: The Perak State Assembly sitting turned into yet another circus just as it did on May 7, with both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) holding separate proceedings in the same hall amid some scuffles.

Perak Assembly: Pakatan reps 'take over' sitting
Perak assembly: Now Pakatan adjourns 'sitting'

Earlier entry:

The Perak state assembly is sitting now amid tight security to avoid the chaos that erupted in the previous session on May 7.

High drama is expected at the State Legislative Assembly where Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir will table the state budget.

You can follow the the development of the sitting live by the star here and Malaysiakini (for subscribers only) here.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Liow wants fresh CC meeting on MCA Peace Plan

Newly-appointed MCA deputy president Liow Tiong Lai wants the party Central Committe to have a fresh meeting to discuss details of the peace plan announced by Datuk Ong Tee Keat on Oct 22, Malaysiakini reported.

Liow claimed that he and several other cc members remained in the dark about the details of the peace plan .

Under the peace plan, the party President and his deposed deputy, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, agreed to a truce by pledging to work together as a team to unite and strengthen the crisis-plagued MCA.

The peace deal also allows Ong to remain as the party president despite getting a vote of no-confidence at the extraordinary general meeting on Oct 10. The delegates at the EGM also refused to reinstate Chua as the party deputy president.

Ong had said it has the blessing and support of Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is said to have brokered the plan.

At a press conference today, Liow and the women's wing chief Chew Mei Fun and the Youth head Wee Ka Siong
said that the peace plan was not deliberated at the central committee meeting before it was revealed.

"Ong informed us (Central C ommittee members) that there is a unity plan (before making it public), but did not explain its contents," claimed Liow.

Also present with him were 11 other CC members.

'Gang of 3' wants fresh CC meeting on peace deal
Yip Ai-Tsin Oct 27,09 2:22pm

MCA president Ong Tee Keat today came under renewed pressure from formerloyalists over the unity plan that he set in place on Oct 22 with ex-deputy president Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Newly-appointed deputy president Liow Tiong Lai, Wanita chief Chew Mei Fun and Youth head Wee Ka Siong today said they are unaware of what the plan involves.

"Ong informed us (CC members) that there is a unity plan (before making it public), but did not explain its contents," claimed Liow.

At a press conference at MCA headquarters today, the trio and 11 other central committee (CC) members called for a meeting on the details.

They circulated an unsigned statement, said to have been approved by "a majority" of CC members.

Chew said the "whole CC is disappointed because they were not consulted", while Wee said "everyone would be okay with unity".

However, Wee also said the party does not revolve around one or two individuals, and that there are 930,000 members to consider as well.

Under the peace plan, Ong and Chua agreed to end their long-running feud in the party's interests. The deal allows Ong to remain as president despite the vote of no-confidence passed at the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on Oct 10.

'Baseless allegations'

Liow responded to recent reports in which certain CC members were accused of trying to topple Ong "CC members did not intend this," he said, expressing disappointment and calling the allegations "wild and baseless".

"The smear campaign within the party has to stop. We would like to make this crystal clear. It is uncalled for to label a person 'traitor' or 'betrayer'," he said.

In their statement, the 14 pointed out that they do not have vested interests as alleged by party colleagues and members of the public.

To clear their name, they outlined the chronology of developments since the EGM. (See chart)

Ong, they noted, decided at the Oct 15 CC meeting to proceed with a second EGM under Article 30.1 of the constitution, over the objections of some of them.

The statement also called on Ong to reinstate sacked legal bureau chief Leong Tang Chong.

Liow reiterated his call for leaders to respect the decisions made at the EGM, pointing out that much confusion has arisen from Ong's flip-flop over his intention to resignand forget” and to look at the bigger picture of what is good for the party and not for individuals.

One pupil drowns, 21 missing after suspension bridge collapses into Kampar River (update)

Update: According to a report from The Star two pupils are still missing and 19 others have been found safe (read here ).

What a relief ! My prayers are for the two missing girls. I hope they will be found ... safe.

Earlier report:

KAMPAR, Oct 27 (Bernama)- One pupil drowned and 21 others are feared missing after a newly built suspension bridge collapsed into the Kampar River as pupils participating in a 1Malaysia camp were walking across at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kuala Dipang near here Monday night.

About 20 other pupils managed to hold on to the ropes of the collapsed bridge and saved themselves while several others were pulled out of the swift-flowing river by a teacher and a guard of the school in the incident at about 10.30pm.

Perak Deputy Chief Police Officer Datuk Zakaria Yusof said on Tuesday the body of the pupil, an Indian girl, was found by rescuers at 8.30am and had been sent to the Kampar Hospital. (According to the star she has been identified as Dina Deve Nathan, 11.)

He told reporters at the Sekolah Kebangsaan Kuala Dipang that rescuers were unsure of the actual number of pupils feared missing and that the police had asked the education department to furnish the names of the pupils participating in the camp.

It had been reported earlier that 22 pupils had gone missing in the accident. -- BERNAMA.

Picture: (Courtesy of the Star); Rescuers retrieving the body of Dina Deve Nathan, 11, from SK Tamil Mambang Diawan at 8.40am on October 27

Thursday, 22 October 2009

MCA Crisis: Ong and Chua pledge to work together

MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and his deposed deputy Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek have agreed to work together as a team to unite and strengthen the crisis-plagued MCA, the second largest component party in Barisan Nasional.

He also revealed that Chua has agreed to work with him "without any pre-conditions."

"This is the time to forgive and forget” and to look at the bigger picture of what is good for the party and not for individuals," he told a press conference this afternoon.

Describing the truce as the "greater unity plan", Ong said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has
been briefed about the peace plan adding that the Prime Minister who is also Barisan Nasional Chairman has given his blessing and support.

Ong who met the Prime Minister last night denied that the peace plan came about as a result of pressure from Datuk Seri Najib.

However, there was talk that the new peace plan was brokered by Datuk Seri Najib during the meeting he had with Ong and Chua last night.

MCA crisis ended for good of the party - The Sun Online

By Giam Say Khoon

Kuala Lumpur (Oct 22, 2009): Key players in rival MCA factions today ended the year-long leadership crisis for the greater good of the party.

Proving the adage that politics is the art of making the impossible, possible and vice-versa, party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and former deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today presented a united front for the party with a pledge to work together without any pre-conditions to strengthen and unite the party.

"We gathered today to implement the greater unity plan which needs the cooperation of all quarters. Positive engagement among the leadership will continue," Ong told a press conference at MCA headquarters this afternoon.

"I have accepted the suggestion by newly elected deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai to work together closely for the greater good of the party," he said.

"In the light of the present scenario, I will talk to party secretary-general Datuk Wong Foon Meng about reviewing the call for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM)," he said.

He added that the 'greater unity plan' had received the blessing and support of Prime inister and Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who has een briefed on the latest developments.

Saying it was "time to forgive and forget and look at the bigger picture of what was good, not for individuals but for the party," Ong pledged to reach out to all leaders and strive to form an all inclusive MCA that would include all factions and personalities who can contribute a team.

"With a unified MCA, the leaders can now refocus their attention on strengthening the party to regain the confidence and trust of the Chinese community and Malaysians in general," he said.

Present at the press conference were Chua, Liow, Wong, party vice-presidents Datuk Kong Cho Ha and Dr Ng Yen Yen.

Asked what role Chua would be playing in the "united" party, Ong said it is will immature to preempt or make any conclusion.

However, he said the party has taken Chua’s support into account and when the party is ready to implement the greater unity plan, the voices of the delegates would be included.

"Today we are here to witness the beginning of integration process and this is one of the unfinished jobs that I mentioned earlier and we all know that we need to put in all commitment to make it work.

"I have been cautioned by many members of public that it is time to weigh between public trust in me and the personal pledge that I made earlier and I think in the name of public trust, it is only fair if I, in my capacity as the MCA president endeavour to live up to expectation of the people and party members," he said, adding that the party took cognisance of the Oct 10 EGM results.

The EGM held after Chua was suspended by the central committee (CC) for tarnishing the party image following his involvement in the sex DVD scandal, had passed a motion of no-confidence against Ong, reinstated Chua as party members but rejected him as the deputy president.

Although Ong had said that he would resign if any of the resolutions were passed, he had stayed on after the EGM and decided to call for another EGM to determine the need to call for a fresh party election.

The CC had later elected Liow to replace Chua, based on its interpretation of the EGM outcome in conjunction with the party constitution.

Most of the CC members had also tried to force Ong to step down but the bid failed as the constitution states that the president can only be removed with the support of two third of the 2,380 central delegates.

Elaborating on the greater unity plan, Ong said the plan is mainly to provide the platform for all quarters within the party to work together as a team cohesively. Asked if he and Chua can still work together after all animosity, the president said the question was raised based on personal observation.

"It is not that we did not have the opportunity to work together before; I am optimistic as well as hopeful that we are committed to the party's cause, and we will be able to work it out," he said.

To another question, Ong said it was unfair to assume that the latest development of the party was the result of Najib’s pressure.

Asked if he would keep his word to step down as party president, Ong said he had received calls, emails, text messages full of words of encouragement and open support from all walks of life in the past two weeks, and he took cognisance of surge of pervasive support that they all have unfinished job to do.

Chua, who sat next to both Ong and Liow, meanwhile said he accepted the results of the Oct 10 EGM.

However, he had requested a clarification on his party post with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and is awaiting the reply. Continue here...

Friday, 16 October 2009

Deepavali greetings

I'd like to wish all my Hindu friends and visitors
A joyous Deepavali
May light triumph over darkness
May peace transcend the earth and
May the spirit of light illuminate the world

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Najib wants party delegates to support his reforms...

Datuk Seri Najib, the Umno president, leads delegates in a rousing cheer at the party's general assembly this morning. (Reuters pic)

...for CHANGE for Umno to become a "progressive, dynamic and responsive" party.

Speaking at the opening of the Umno annual general assembly - his first policy speech since taking over the party presidency last March - Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the 2,541 delegates that Umno must change if it wants to retain its unbroken grip on power since Independence after the next general election.

He said that Umno aimed to reform itself into a “progressive, dynamic and responsive” party.

“Therefore, to continue to survive, Umno has no choice but to embrace reality. Umno must open its doors for change and improvement.”

To kick off the reform process, party delegates will have a closed-door debate today on seven amendments to the Umno constitution.

The seven motions include one to increase the voting base to elect leaders to the division level whereby 146,500 members will be eligible to vote as compared to only 2,510 delegates now.

It is a sign that the spirit of democracy remains alive in Umno, he said.

“Clearly, no other political party in Malaysia is brave enough to do the same,” he added and asked the delegates to abandon the vote-buying practice after the amendments were passed.

In reference to the party's landslide victory in the recent Bagan Pinang by-election, he warned the delegates that the victory did not indicate the party's full recovery.

“One swallow does not make a summer. We cannot be complacent or happy thinking that we are the party of choice just because other parties cannot be trusted, or in other words the best among the worse,” said Datuk Seri Najib.

But he would like to see a repeat of the success of winning over the support of the non-Malays in Bagan Pinang.

“Clearly, in mixed constituencies we want Umno to be accepted as a party that fights for not only the Malays but also other ethnic groups in Malaysia,” he said.

He called on the party to change the candidate-selection method in elections saying that the individual has to be accepted by the local community and possess the quality to serve at three important levels, the people, the party and the nation.

Datuk Seri Najib, who is also prime minister, took over the party six months ago from the then Umno president Tun Abdullah Badawi in wake of the unprecedented setback in the March 8 general election last year.

The party president reminded the delegates that Umno will remain a "centrist" party. “We are neither a leftist nor a right-wing party,” he said.

"Since its formation 60 years ago, Umno has accommodated the left, right, nationalists and religious scholars."

In his more than two-hour speech titled "Uphold tradition, and fostering change", Datuk Seri Najib stressed that Umno is a party which championed the welfare of the people.

"Umno must not be seen as representing certain people. Instead, the party must be seen as an inclusive party which put the peoples' interests at the forefront, and not oneself".

He also criticised the opposition for branding Umno as a racist party.

"If it is true Malays are racist as alleged, we would not accommodate other ethnic groups such as vernacular schools, and it would not be possible for Umno to work with other races and component party members.”

Najib said following BN's heavy losses in last year's general election, the opposition had predicted the demise of Umno.

He said many people had wanted to “mentalqinkan” on Umno.

“They say Umno is buying extra time before it dies. This is not the first time that they have made such a prediction

“When a group of members split from Umno to form PAS, such premonition was made and similarly after the May 13, 1969 racial riots or the 1988 Umno elections, which led to the formation of Parti Semangat 46, or the 1999 elections.”

He said Malaysians had sent a strong message to Umno at the 2008 general election. However, he vouched that Umno would rise again.

“Alhamdulillah, Umno has managed to surpass all those challenges and we have managed to rise and become stronger. Umno was formed with the ulama, educationists, farmers, fishermen and traders.”

“If we remain united, work towards our common goal and put in the effort, we will climb the highest mountain and go down the deepest ravine and swim the deepest ocean. We shall overcome the odds,” he said.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Bagan Pinang: Isa scores landslide win...

Barisan Nasional’s Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad has won the Bagan Pinang by-election with a thumping majority of 5,435 votes.

Tan Sri Isa, the former Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar, who was stripped of his vice-presidency post by the party for money politics in 2005, polled 8,013 votes against PAS state commissioner Zulkefly Mohamad Omar’s 2,578.

The by-election was held following the death of Barisan Nasional’s Azman Mohamad Noor due to a blood disorder on Sept 4.

Azman had won the seat against PAS’ Ramli Ismail in the last general election with a 2,333-vote majority, polling 6,430 votes against PAS’ 4,097.

The official result was announced by returning officer Abdul Wahad Samsuddin at the Port Dickson Municipal Council Hal at 8pm amidst jubilant Umno supporters.

In an immediate reaction, PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said that his party accepts the decision of Bagan Pinang voters.

BN has won all eight polling districts, including the three Indian estates, which showed a return in support from the minority community.

After a series of by-election defeats, the Bagan Pinang victory has provided the much- needed boost for the BN which until now has lost all but one by-election since the March 8 general elections last year.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Umno deputy president, has described the victory as significant and a positive sign for BN.

The by-election contest tally now stands at 7-2, with Pakatan Rakyat previously sweeping all except for Sarawak's Batang Ai.

D-Day for voters in Bagan Pinang (Update)

Update - 5:35pm: Polling has ended at 5pm and counting of the votes is expected to start soon. As at 4pm, voter turnout was 69.5 per cent with 6,301 voters having cast their ballots


It’s D-Day for voters in Bagan Pinang, Negri Sembilan, as they go to the polls today to decide on their representative in the 36-member state assembly.

Barisan Nasional is being represented by Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad, 59, who will face PAS’ Zulkefly Mohamad Omar, 45.

This is the the ninth by-election in the country after the March 8 general election last year and is being held following the death of Barisan Nasional’s Azman Mohamad Noor on Sept 4.

The late Azman had won the seat against PAS’ Ramli Ismail in the last general election with a 2,333-vote majority, polling 6,430 votes against PAS’ 4,097.

Tan Sri Mohd Isa, who was Mentri Besar for 22 years (1982 to 2004), was previously a six-term wakil rakyat while Zulkefly, a state PAS commissioner, had contested and lost the Lenggeng state seat on three occasions.

However, both will not be casting their ballots this time as they are registered as voters elsewhere.

Tan Sri Isa appears to be the favourite to retain this seat for the BN and put an end to a series of by-electoral defeats for the federal ruling coalition in the hands of Pakatan Rakyat.

There will be eight voting centres in this by-election — Taman Eastern, Ladang Atherton, Siliau, Ladang Bradwall, Sua Betong, Kg Bagan Pinang, Si Rusa and Teluk Kemang.

Despite being raised near here, Tan Sri Mohd Isa, who is also Teluk Kemang Umno chief, has never contested the seat. He was Linggi assemblyman for five terms and Jempol MP once.

A former Umno vice-president, he has had to give up his post after being found guilty of breaching the party’s code of ethics in 2005.

He was suspended for six years but this was later reduced to three.

Bagan Pinang is a traditional BN stronghold. Malays form the majority of the voters with 62.8 per cent followed by the Indians (20.7 per cent), Chinese (11 per cent) and others (5.5 per cent).

It is located in the Teluk Kemang parliamentary seat. Four other seats in the constituency are Port Dickson, Linggi, Chuah and Lukut.

Chuah and Port Dickson are held by the PKR while Lukut is under DAP. Only Linggi belongs to Barisan.

Barisan controls 20 of the 36 state seats in the state assembly. The Opposition has 15 seats, with 10 belonging to the DAP while PKR and PAS have four and one respectively.

Bagan Pinang: By-election result as early as 8pm

If all goes well, the Election Commission (EC) should be able to know the result of the by-election between 7.15pm and 7.30pm.

But the result will be announced after the Maghrib (evening) prayers at 8pm when the supporters of both parties will be present, EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said Saturday.

He said eight polling centres with 18 polling streams had been made available for the 9,060 normal voters in Bagan Pinang.

There 4,604 postal voters in the constituency. Thursday and Friday had been allocated for them to cast their votes.

As rain was forecast in the constituency Sunday, Abdul Aziz urged voters to come to vote early. Voting will be closed at 5pm.

The Bagan Pinang by-election is a straight fight between Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad of the Barisan Nasional and Zulkefly Omar of PAS. It is being held following the death of state assemblyman, Azman Mohd Noor of the BN, on Sept 4. Source Bernama.

MCA EGM: Ong and Chua will have to go

MCA delegates dealt a devastating blow to their top two leaders when they adopted a motion declaring no confidence in party president Ong Tee Keat and rejected a motion to reinstate his suspended deputy, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, at its extra general meeting (EGM) yesterday.

The 2,304 delegates passed a no confidence vote against Datuk Seri Ong by a wafer-thin 14 vote majority.

They also voted against a motion to specifically reinstate Dr Chua as deputy president with a smaller majority but voted to reinstate him as a full party member with a majority of 109 votes.

In other words, the outcome of the EGM has left the party without a president and a deputy president.

In a brief statement after the the EGM Dr Chua said that he accepted the decision of party delegates.

As for Ong he had said in an interview with the Star that he would resign should he fail to get the backing from the delegates.

However, according to a Malaysiakini report the positions of MCA president and deputy president will be determined by the party's central committee on Thursday.

MCA secretary-general Wong Foon Meng said the powerful central committee would meet at Wisma MCA at 1 pm on that day to discuss the outcome of the EGM.

The current power struggle in MCA is not the first time facing the party.

In 2002 a fall-out beween the then party president, Ling Liong Sik, and his deputy, Lim Ah Lek over the purchase of Nanyang Press Holding Berhad resulted in the resignations of both leaders from their respectives posts,

They were replaced by Ong Ka Ting as president and Chan Kong Choy as the deputy.

The results of the three resolutions are:

1) Motion of no confidence against Ong

For: 1,155

Against: 1,141

Spoilt votes: 8

Majority: 14

2) To annul the party's decision to expel/suspend Chua

For: 1,204

Against: 1,095

Spoilt votes:5

Majority: 109

3) To reinstate Chua as MCA deputy president

Against: 1,184

For: 1,110

Spoilt votes: 10

Majority: 74

Read the Star report: MCA EGM: Delegates make dramatic decisions

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Bagan Pinang: No duplication of names in electoral roll says EC

Election Commission (EC) deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar has refuted claims by PAS that there were duplication of names in the Bagan Pinang electoral roll, particularly involving postal voters.

He said the EC has scrutinised the Bagan Pinang electoral roll and found out that the duplication of names does not exist, he was quoted by Bernama.

Wan Ahmad was commenting a PAS proposal seeking a court injunction to prevent 253 postal voters from casting votes today claiming there was duplication of names in the electoral roll.

Pas was reported to have been upset over alleged irregularities in the postal voting process.

PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali made the claim during a meeting with EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof yesterday.

Wan Ahmad said PAS had given EC a list of names said to be duplicated in the Bagan Pinang electoral roll.

The list is said to contain names of voters who are allegedly able to vote twice - as postal and ordinary voter - or are able to vote in more than one constituency.

There are 4,600 postal voters - who make up more than a third of the electorate in the constituency and who will begin casting their ballots for two days starting today (read here and here).

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Bagan Pinang: BN on track to victory, opposition struggling

After five days of campaigning, it appears that the Barisan Nasional has the upper hand in retaining its stronghold in the Bagan Pinang state by-election.

Indications are that the opposition alliance is struggling to make significant headway despite adopting various approaches and strategies.

Instead they are kept busy most of the time responding to the issues raised by the BN.

The BN's strategy of highlighting local development and fielding an experienced, charming and friendly candidate - Isa Samad - who is a local, seems to have neutralised some national issues raised by the opposition.

The opposition alliance, particularly PAS, seems to have focused more on local issues to woo the voters in Bagan Pinang, something which is seen as departing from their normal practice of focusing on national issues in their election campaign.

For example, they raised issues such as abandoned construction projects near the beach, inefficient sewerage system which pollutes the sea and traffic congestion but some party insiders are doubtful that this would swing the votes their way.

However, PAS' Bagan Pinang by-election director, Salahuddin Ayub, said they were still playing up the national issue but at the same time needed to focus on local issues as the BN had portrayed Isa as an experienced candidate to serve the constituency,having been a mentri besar before this.

"We need to highlight the local issues here to counter this, to show his failures," he said.

Whether it is just strategy or due to other factors, some members of the opposition pact privately revealed that the overall response towards their campaign had not been encouraging, even in the non-Malay areas.

"The reception towards us in some areas is still cold. Logistics are lousy. At the moment, we believe the majority of the non-Malay vote are still with us.

"We can be sure about the Indians but we are not so sure about the Chinese," a DAP leader told Bernama.

The DAP leader, who refused to be identified, said most of the voters they meet are cold towards them when they campaigned from house to house.

"I think the locals, particulary the Chinese, are very much reserved. They don't want to be associated with our ceramah. That explains the poor turnout at ceramah organised by us," he said.

Therefore the opposition was not sure of achieving the target of 75 per cent support from the non-Malay voters, from 65 per cent previously.

"It is a battle that is hard to fight as there are no strong issues for us to focus on. Can't find good rotten eggs. Permatang Pasir was easy as the BN had already committed suicide. Here the situation is different," he said.

A Gerakan leader who has been campaigning in the predominatly Indian areas concurred that there was some positive leaning towards the BN by the Indian voters as the reception they received in their house-to-house campaign was not as hostile as during the general election last year.

"In terms of support, Umno definitely has between 4,500 and 5,000 Malay votes while PAS hardcore is around 1,500 votes. In the last general election, PAS obtained 4,500 votes from the non-Malays.

"However, in this by-election, we can forsee some changes. The situation will improve in terms of the non-Malay votes although we expect it to be small," he said, adding that the campaign was divided and focused on small groups of voters.

Therefore, in the coming days, the BN is pushing hard for some changes among the non-Malay voters with a large-scale Mooncake festival tomorrow night and a grand dinner the following night to draw larger crowds.

"All these will be attended by the Deputy Prime Minister. Last time we only had 42 per cent of the Chinese voters here supporting the BN. However, this time around, we are targeting to hit 50 per cent," said Teluk Kemang MCA division chairman Yit Lee Kok.

The Chinese voters are mostly concentrated in eluk Kemang while the rest are scattered in small numbers in places like Sua Betong, Si Rusa, Silliau Town, Taman Eastern and Ladang Atherton.

BN election operatives claimed that another indication that PAS was struggling to make any headway was when they decided to go back to their old tactic of claiming that the election roll was not clean as a way out in the event they performed badly in this by-election.

PAS has also been reported that it may apply for an injunction to postpone the Bagan Pinang by-election if the Election Commission (EC) does not resolve the issue of the alleged irregularities in the electoral roll.

The party claimed that the irregularities happened when voters' names were registered in two areas, one under a military identification card and the other using the MyKad.-- BERNAMA

Monday, 5 October 2009

Bagan Pinang by-election: Isa Samad has already paid his dues says PM...

...and he deserves a second chance.

Defending Barisan Nasional's decision to field Tan Sri Isa Samad for the Bagan Pinang state by-election, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said the former has already paid his dues.

Tan Sri Isa, a former menteri besar of Negeri Sembilan, was suspended from Umno in 2004 after being found guilty of practicing money politics.

Speaking to students in Paris, Datuk Seri Najib said: "The question here is whether he deserved a second chance or not."

And to the Prime Minister and the Umno leadership Tan Sri Isa does (deserve a second chance) because he is a loyal party member and has been working hard for the party.

The NST has the report:

Bagan Pinang by-election: Isa paid dues, deserves second chance, says PM Najib


Nuraina A Samad reporting from Paris

PARIS: Tan Sri Isa Samad has paid his dues and deserves a second chance as the Barisan Nasional candidate in the Bagan Pinang state by-election, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said here.

"Action has already been taken against him for his offences, and he lost his party posts. The punishment he got was severe. The question is whether he deserves a second chance.

"In our system, criminals can be given a second chance. People who have been sentenced by the courts are given a second chance," he said in response to a question by a Malaysian student during a gathering at Pavillon Davphine at Place du Marechal de Lattre Tassigny, here Sunday.

Engineering student Ahmed Syukri Amin Ahmed Ismail wanted the Prime Minister to explain why BN picked the former Menteri Besar whom Umno had found guilty of money politics, as Bagan Pinang candidate in the forthcoming state by-election.

Najib who is in France for a four-day official visit said Isa did not break the country's laws, but the party's ethics. Besides, he is not being picked for a Cabinet position but as a candidate for the state assembly.

He said the Opposition could raise all sorts of allegations but the fact is that they are faced with more serious ones.

"Isa has paid his dues, is loyal to the party and has, in fact, been working hard for the party.

"The party's primary consideration is (to choose) someone who can effectively serve the constituency, someone popular and someone whose leadership people can accept.

"Our reading is that Tan Sri Isa is the most popular candidate and the right choice for Bagan Pinang."

Najib who is accompanied by his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, later hosted a 1Malaysia open house.