Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Penanti: Umno Political Bureau to meet tomorrow...

Update: Umno political bureau's meeting scheduled for tomorrow to discuss if the party should contest in the Penanti by-election on May 31 has been postponed to Monday.

The meeting will now be held at 1pm on Monday, said a statement posted in Umno's official website. No reason was given for the postponement.

Earlier report

Penanti: Umno Political Bureau to meet tomorrow... decide whether the party should contest the state seat in the upcoming by-election on May 31.

According to Umno official website the meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister and party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and attended by deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and all three vice-presidents.

The Umno Supreme Council at its meeting last Friday agreed to allow the bureau to discuss the matter and to decide if it should contest the state seat of Penanti which fell vacant following the resignation of Mohammad Firdaus Khairuddin from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) on April 16.

Last night PKR named former academician 58-year-old Mansor Othman as its candidate. Mansor was PKR's state deputy leader.

Mansor is PKR candidate for Penanti

Former academician and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) state deputy leader 58-year-old Mansor Othman (pic right) will be the party candidate for the Penanti by-election next month.

This was announced by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim to a crowd of more than 1,000 people packed into Yayasan Aman, Penanti tonight.

Among Pakatan Rakyat leaders present were Penang Chief Minister and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, PKR national president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, state PKR chief and Bayan Baru parliamentarian MP Zahrain Mohd Hashim, state DAP chairperson and state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow and former Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.

Since the seat fell vacant after its incumbent representative Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin resigned on April 16, speculations were rife that Mansor was Anwar’s pick for the contest.

Mansor, a former professor from Universiti Sains Malaysia, was Anwar’s political secretary when the Parliamentary Opposition leader was the deputy prime minister in the Barisan Nasional federal government.

The by-election was called by the Election Commission when Fairus resigned as the elected representative. - Malaysiakini .

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Penanti: Mansor to be named PKR candidate

Malaysiakini reported that Penang Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) deputy chief Mansor Othman is expected to be named as the party's candidate for the upcoming Penanti by-election on May 31.

It is learnt that the announcement will be made by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Penanti tonight.

Fifty-six-year-old Mansor, is a former university lecturer and student leader, who also served as Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar's political secretary during his tenure as deputy premier.

Party insiders said that Mansor is now almost certain to be the party's candidate after he was not chosen as PKR's nominee as a senator by the state assembly today.

That position went to PKR state secretary Mustafa Kamil, who was approved by the Penang state assembly as a senator from PKR.

If selected, Mansor, would also assume the vacant deputy chief minister post if he wins the by-election.

In the 2008 general election, Mansor contested for the Pulau Betong state seat but lost by 294 votes to Umno's Muhammad Farid Saad.

He was Anwar's original choice to be the state deputy chief minister but had to forgo the post to Mohamad Fairus Khairuddin after his defeat.

Penanti will be the sixth by-election since the March 8 general election, five of which were snatched by Pakatan Rakyat.

The coming battle for the state seat - located under the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency - is also expected to be won by Pakatan.

However, Barisan Nasional has yet to decide if it will contest. The decision will be made by the Umno political bureau soon.

Permatang Pauh is considered Datuk Seri Anwar's stronghold. He is the MP of the constituency.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Penanti by-election: Nominations May 23, Polling May 31

The Election Commission (EC) has set May 23 for nominations and May 31 as the polling day for the Penanti by-election.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof made the announcement at a press conference at the EC office Monday.

The seat fell vacant following the resignation of former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin as the state assemblyman on April 16.

Umno was expected to discuss if it should contest the seat at the party's supreme council meeting last Friday. However the matter has now been passed to the party's political bureau - headed by Najib – to decide.

Immediately after the seat fell vacant, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak had said that it was possible for BN to give this by-election a miss, if there was consensus among its coalition partners.

However, Umno division leaders in Penanti and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have called for the party to contest the seat which falls within the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, held by Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

In the March general election last year, Mohammad Fairus won the Penanti seat with a majority of 2,219 votes by beating Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid of the BN.

The Star report here and Bernama's here.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Najib: Umno political bureau to decide on Penanti

The Umno supreme Council, which met for the first time last night since Datuk Seri Najib Razak took over as party president last month, has yet to decide whether to contest the Penanti by-election following the resignation of Parti Keadilan Rakat state representative Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.

The decision - whether to contest or not - will be made by the Umno political bureau and this was agreed to by the Supreme Council at its meeting yesterday, Datuk Najib said.

Datuk Najib heads the bureau.

He, however, declined to reveal when the political bureau is to meet to make a final decision on the matter.

Datuk Najib said last week that Barisan Nasional is contemplating in not contesting only if there was consensus among its coalition partners. He also said that BN might give it a miss because the Opposition was “playing political games” by deliberately forcing a by-election.

He said he would meet Barisan Nasional (BN) Supreme Council at the end of the month to discuss the matter.

The Election Commission, in the meantime, will announce on Monday (April 27) whether there will be a by-election.

P'raya Penanti: Biro politik Umno akan putuskan

Abdul Rahim Sabri Apr 24, 09 8:49pm

Majlis Tertinggi (MT) menyerahkan kepada biro politik parti itu untuk memutuskan sama ada akan meletakkan calon BN bertanding dalam pilihanraya kecil DUN Penanti, di Pulau Pinang.

Presiden Umno, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yang juga pengerusi biro tersebut berkata, perkara itu diputuskan dalam mesyuarat MT hari ini.

"(MT) serahkan mandat kepada biro politik untuk buat keputusan (mengenainya)," kata Najib selepas mempengerusikan mesyuarat MT selama empat jam di ibunegara hari ini.

Sehubungan itu, katanya, biro tersebut akan membuat keputusan mengenainya.

Ditanya bilakah biro akan bermesyuarat memandangkan pilihanraya kecil itu tidak lama lagi, Najib berkata: "Kita tahu bila mahu buat mesyuarat".

Ditanya mengenai keputusan bekas Timbalan Ketua Menteri 1, Pulau Pinang, Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin dari PKR, meletak jawatan sebagai ADUN Penanti, Najib berkata:

"Prinsipnya, kita tak boleh gunakan kedudukan kita, sebab apabila kita tawarkan diri untuk bertanding, kita sanggup untuk beri khidmat untuk rakyat, selama tempoh penggal parlimen berkenaan." - sambung di sini .

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Arrest warrant out for Raja Petra

The Petaling Jaya Sessions Court has issued a warrant of arrest against Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin this morning for failing to appear for his sedition trial.

Raja Petra, 58, is facing trial for the alleged seditious article entitled 'Let's send the Altantuya murderers to hell' which was posted on the Malaysia Today website.

The Star online:

PETALING JAYA: The Sessions Court here issued a warrant of arrest against Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin on Thursday after he failed to turn up for his sedition trial.

His lawyer J. Chandra informed judge Rozina Ayob that his client did not turn up in court on the grounds he is on a self-imposed exile from the state for “reasons that are well known.”

“You know these ‘well known reasons,’ so please highlight them to the court,” Rozina said.

“The accused is posting his reasons on his website this morning,” said Chandra.

“You expect the court to go through that, is it?” the judge said.

Chandra then went out to explain that for over a month now, Raja Petra, 58, has posted articles or comments on issues in relation to the Selangor royal house that have angered some members of his own family who have demanded an apology.

On Malaysia Today, explaining why he did not attend court Thursday, Raja Petra wrote, “My family then gave me an ultimatum. I was to either make that public apology or else my family would insert an advertisement in the mainstream newspapers practically distancing itself from me, which could be interpreted as disowning me ....

“I went into exile outside Selangor ... . It has to be noted that this has always been the punishment for any member of the Selangor Royal Family who is considered durhaka (traitorous) since the beginning of the Selangor Sultanate more than 250 years ago.”

He also wrote that another reason why he did not attend court was the he did not expect to get a fair trial.

In court on Thursday, his lawyer Chandra added, “You have to bear in mind that he is a member of royalty and this self-imposed exile is a punishment he has handed out to himself.”

His wife Marina Lee, who is also his bailor, was also absent.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Shahidani Aziz asked for a warrant of arrest to be issued against Raja Petra and a notice of showcause for his wife and bailor Marina. The judge granted both and set May 22 for mention.

Raja Petra, a former Internal Security Act detainee, had on May 6 2008 claimed trial to publishing a seditious article on his Malaysia Today news portal on April 25 of that same year.

He is accused of publishing the article Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell on the website

The charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years' jail or both upon conviction.

Penanti: PAS wants to contest in by-election

Malaysiakini reported that all 115 delegates of the Pas Permatang Pauh division unanimously passed a resolution last week urging the party to contest in the forthcoming by-election.

Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) won the Penanti seat in the last general election but resigned as its state assemblyman last week on personal grounds.

Permatang Pauh PAS division head Omar Hassan told Malaysiakini Wednesday that the decision of the party members has been communicated to PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang in Kuala Lumpur.

And the reason for wanting to contest was the manner in which PKR compelled Mohammad Fairus to resign, according to Omar.

The former Penang deputy chief minister (1) was under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for alleged abuse of power. (But according to Fairuz the MACC has since cleared him of any wrongdoings. Read here)

"Such a resignation should not have taken place. There are grassroots members who are suspicious about the sequence of events, especially among the fencesitters who support us.

"In any organisation, the individual is the responsibility of the party. When there are problems with an assemblyperson, party leaders must solve it," said Omar.

"Fairus had not been charged with any offences yet, so he should be able to retain his position as an assemblyperson.

"PKR should solve problems within the party, and not compel anyone to resign.

“We now risk losing the confidence of the people and our grassroots supporters. Hence, PAS is stepping in as a contender for the by-election to alleviate the situation," he said.

Omar hopes the party president would consider the motion.

"We shall see. We do not want to make hasty decisions," he said, adding that the delegates wanted very much to have their own candidate for the by-election.

PAS leaders are not expected to fight for the seat with PKR despite the strong request by the Permatang Pauh PAS division.

However such a decision by PAS leaders may result in local PAS supporters deciding to boycott the contest, depriving PKR not just voters but also election machinery.

The Election Commission will announce the by-election date on Monday.

Barisan Nasional is contemplating in not contesting the seat on the ground that the opposition was calling for by-elections for petty reasons.

However, the decision is not final.

But even if Barisan Nasional decides not to contest, PKR will not have a walkover.

This is because PKR's former Penang Wanita PKR chief Aminah Abdullah has declared that she will contest the state seat as an independent.

She said that she decided to contest for the sake of justice and fairness for the people.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Clerk arrested over 'death threat' SMSes to T'ganu reps

A 31-year-old clerk has been taken in for questioning earlier this week in connection with the SMS 'death threats' made to three Terengganu state assemblymen.

He is being investigated for allegedly sending out SMSes to the trio warning them against moving a motion of no-confidence against Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said.

Terengganu CID chief Mohd Fauzi Abduri told a press conference in Kuala Terengganu today that the man was arrested on Monday night at his house in Bangi, Selangor.

No other details of that man were revealed as investigations were underway.

On April 13, Paka assemblyman Zakaria Abdullah, Abdul Halim Jusoh (Permaisuri) and Rosol Wahid (Ajil) had lodged their police reports shortly after receiving the SMS ‘death threats' claiming that the message had come from one of the Menteri Besar's top official who, however, denied the accusation.

They were joined by seven others in boycotting the state assembly sitting on Tuesday fearing for their safety but returned to the assembly on Wednesday only after being instructed to do so by Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Abdul Razak.

However, there was no motion of no-confidence tabled against Ahmad.

Ahmad is facing a major opposition from among his own ranks in the state government.

It is now believed that 18 out of 24 Umno/BN elected representatives are against him.

There are 32 seats in the Terengganu state assembly. The remaining eight are held by opposition PAS.

The Umno assemblymen who want Ahmad "out" are believed to be from the faction of former Menteri Besar Idris Jusoh.

Datuk Najib, who has met both Datuk Ahmad and Datuk Idris separately, asking them to sort out the political mess in the state, is said to have given the Mentri Besar a one-month deadline to prove he has the support of the assemblymen.

Monday, 20 April 2009

T’ganu MB Ahmad Said's trouble aint over yet

Malaysiakini reported that embattled Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said (picture right) is being pressured to step down from his post.

The number of state assemblymen who wants him to go has increased to 18 from 10 last week.

The 10 state assembylmen had boycotted the state assembly sitting but returned to the assembly on the last day after being instructed to do so by Prime Minister Datuk SeriNajib Abdul Razak.

They were said to be involved in a plan to move a motion of no-confidence against the Menteri Besar who is said to have run the state like a dictator and has failed to deliver.

BN has 24 seats in the 32-state assembly. The remaining are PAS's.

When asked then on the latest political development in Terengganu, Datuk Najib described it as “something that is not unusual“ adding that there was no tension in the state and the issue was manageable.

“It is not a full-blown political crisis. It is not something unusual; we can manage,” he was quoted as saying.

However, it is learnt that Datuk Najib had separate meetings with Datuk Ahmad and former Menteri Besar Datuk Idris Jusuh - the man said to be behind the move to oust the current Menteri Besar - to solve the political mess in the state.

The Umno president is said to have given Datuk Ahmad a one-month dealine to prove that he has the support to lead the state.

Pressure piles on T'ganu MB to step down -Malaysiakini
Muda Mohd Noor & Rahmah Ghazali Apr 20, 09 12:45pm

Pressure is mounting against embattled Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Said to step down from the post which he assumed under controversial circumstances after the general election last year.

The number of Umno/BN state representatives who want Ahmad to step down now has increased to 18. Until last week the number of elected Umno representatives against Ahmad stood at 10

BN/Umno has 24 seats in the 32-seat state assembly. The remaining eight are with opposition PAS.

BN Terengganu backbenchers club secretary Alias Abdullah said today those opposing Ahmad included several state executive councillor members.

"However, I cannot divulge the names of these exco members, (in order) to safeguard their positions," he told Malaysiakini.

With this figure in hand, the group now has sufficient numbers in the assembly to call for a vote of no-confidence against Ahmad.

Alias, also the Alor Limbat state representative, added that he would be forwarding this latest development to the Umno top leadership to stabilise the political crisis in the east coast state.

He reiterated that the party will make "the best decision for the people's interests" now that they have stronger support on their side.

Palace's favoured candidate

Ahmad has come under tremendous pressure from his own party members to relinquish the post.

Last week 10 Umno elected representatives boycotted the state assembly sitting and only returned to the assembly after being instructed to do so by party chief and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Ahmad replaced Idris Jusoh as the menteri besar last year despite the party leadership preferring the latter.

Although Ahmad did not have the support of most elected representatives, he was favoured by the Terengganu palace.

Najib last week had separate meetings with Ahmad and Idris to find a solution to the problem in the state.

It is learnt that Najib has given Ahmad one month to prove that he has the support to lead the state.

Ahmad had also cancelled his official 10-day visit to Russia and Ukraine to sort out the mess in Terengganu.

Dr M says BN should contest Penanti seat

If Barisan Nasional (BN) did not contest the seat, the ruling coalition's members and supporters in the area would be disappointed, said the former Prime Minister.

According to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad BN had never been afraid of contesting in any elections even in PAS strongholds in Kelantan.
Dr Mahathir was commenting on the likely by-election in the state seat of Penanti after former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin announced on Thursday that he was quitting the state assembly seat.

On Saturday Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Barisan may not contest the seat if there was a consensus among all component parties and argued that contesting in unnecessary by-elections was a waste of public funds.

While many BN leaders back the proposal for BN to give the by-election a miss, MIC president S.Samy Vellu appears to be the most adamant that BN contest in the opposition stronghold to safeguard the coalition’s “integrity, prestige and image”.

Yesterday, Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim also welcomed Datuk Seri Najib’s suggestion, saying he was happy if BN did not contest.

Dr Mahathir said that when he was prime minister, Umno never withdrew from any election, including in Kelantan, a PAS stronghold.

“Winning or losing is a separate matter but if we do not contest then the other party has already won,” he said.

The Star has the report here .

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Anwar may get his wish for a walkover... the Penanti by-election because the Barisan Nasional might not be contesting the state seat if there is consensus among component parties, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

"I don't know yet (whether to contest). We will look first, but I don't rule out any possibility," he told Bernama.

However, the Prime Minister said he would meet Umno Supreme Council (MT) and Barisan Nasional (BN) Supreme Council at the end of the month to discuss the matter.

Yesterday, Datuk Najib accused the opposition of “playing political games” by deliberately forcing a by-election.

He also called it a wasteful process, saying people were tired of the slew of by-elections and the focus should be on fixing the economy.

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim later called upon BN not to field a candidate against PKR and give the opposition party a walkover instead.

The Election Commission in the meantime said it will have to establish if the PKR-held Penang state seat is vacant after incumbent Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin sent a resignation letter on Thursday.

Najib: BN may not contest Penanti by-election

PEKAN, April 18 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak does not rule out the possibility that the Barisan Nasional (BN) will not contest the by-election for the Penanti State constituency in Penang.

He said here today the BN must first consider whether the by-election would benefit the people or otherwise.

"Don't know yet (whether we opt out or not). We will look first, but I don't rule out any possibility," he told reporters after attending the celebration at the Pekan Parliamentary level in conjunction with his appointment as Prime Minister.

In this context, Najib said he would hold a meeting with the Umno Supreme Council (MT) and meet with the presidents of the BN component parties to discuss the matter.

"I will raise the matter at the next Umno MT meeting. If I don't have the time, I will bring it up to the Political Bureau, and discuss with the BN component party presidents," he said.

Najib said the BN would reach a consensus on the by-election.

"That's why we have to reach a consensus. In this matter, it's clearly their (opposition's) political game and we could see their objective.

"This is not because of the requirement of the Federal Constitution, if it is because of the Federal Constitution, we will certainly respect it," he said.

On Thursday, former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I, Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, announced his resignation as the State Assemblyman for Penanti.

Mohammad Fairus, 32, who is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, said the decision was taken to enable him to clear his name from all the allegations besides pursuing further studies.-- BERNAMA

Anwar: In that case, give us a walkover...

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has shot back at Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's complaint that the enforced Penanti by-election was 'a waste of public resources' by suggesting that Pakatan Rakyat be given a walkover. - Malaysiakini.

"We will heed the call from the prime minister that we shall not waste public resources", said the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leader.

"I call upon the BN and Umno leadership not to field any candidate against PKR in the Penanti by-election and give us a walkover.

"It will not only save taxpayers' money, time and energy, but also will be consistent with the premier statement," he said to some 500 party members in his Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency last night.

He also fired a shot at Datuk Seri Najib for suggesting that PKR was playing a political game by forcing the Penanti by-election, by taking a swipe at Umno-engineered power grab in Perak early this year.

"Isn't that a political game?" he asked.

Datuk Seri Najib had, earlier in the day, criticised PKR for playing political games at the time when the nation should be united in focusing on solving the global economic crisis.

He said that Pakatan was forcing people to endure another by-election with the resignation of former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin as the Penanti state representative.

The upcoming Penanti by-election would be the sixth to be held since last year's general election in March, after Permatang Pauh, Kuala Terengganu and Bukit Gantang parliamentary, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai state by-elections.

The Election Commission is scheduled to announce on April 24 the status of the state assembly seat and the date for the by-election if a vacancy occurred.

At the gathering Datuk Seri Anwar justified Fairus' resignation as 'proper and correct' given the circumstances that he was entangled in graft investigation by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Friday, 17 April 2009

PM: Too much resources wasted on unnecessary by-elections

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the country doesn’t need another by-election because too much time, energy and money have been spent on by-elections that are actually unnecessary when priority should be on fixing the economy.

And, by-elections should not be called for wantonly but only held if the elected representative died.

The Prime Minister was commenting on the impending by-election in Penanti which fell vacant following the resignation of the former Deputy Chief Minister I, Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, as state rep of the constituency yesterday.

Datuk Seri Najib described the resignation as politically motivated and a political game by the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) just for their own purposes and self-interests.

Too Much Money Spent on Unnecessary By-elections

KLANG, April 17 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said on Friday too much time, energy and money have been spent on by-elections that need not be held.

The prime minister said that a by-election should only be held when the elected representative died.

He said this when asked to comment on the resignation of Mohamad Fairus Khairuddin of Parti Keadilan Rakyat as Penanti state assemblyman in Penang yesterday, paving the way for a by-election.

"This resignation is a political decision and can been described as a political game for certain purposes. So the people in general don't like by-elections that are deliberately forced to be held," he told a news conference after opening the 63rd annual general meeting of the Association Chinese Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (ACCIM) here.

Asked whether Fairus' action was a betrayal of the voters' trust, he said it was up to the people to judge.

"There are many views now that we are over-politicking at a time when we should be focusing on restoring the country's economy and fighting for the interests and wellbeing of the people to look forward to our future and take the nation to greater heights of success," he said.

Mohammad Fairus in announcing his resignation, effective yesterday, said he wanted to pursue his studies and spend more time with his family and to clear his name of the allegations hurled against him.

Mohammad Fairus, 32, is under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over allegations of corruption involving quarry operations.

Najib also said that under the Federal Constitution besides the death of an incumbent, the other reasons for holding by-elections were if the assemblyman or member of Parliament was declared a bankrupt or incapable of discharging his duties and responsibilities due to certain factors.

"Resigning actually runs counter to the concept of parliamentary democracy because once you offer yourself, you should be committed to working for the duration of the parliamentary or state term to serve the people," he said.

On the likelihood of demonstrations like those in Thailand occurring in Malaysia, he said : "I don't see it...because we are a nation and society that uphold the constitution and the law, so the rule of law is the principle and pillar that we respect."

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Another by-election...?

This time it will be in Penanti - and the sixth by-election since the 2008 GE - now that Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin has finally decided to quit as its state assemblyman a week after resigning as Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 and executive councillor.

The embattled politician, who is under probe for corruption, announced today that he is stepping down as Penanti assemblyman “after giving due consideration and in the interest of the people.”

“I have decided for the sake of protecting PKR to resign as the Penanti state representative effective today," he said in a statement issued by PKR's information bureau.

But there is no confirmation from Fairus himself as he could not be contacted. [Click here to see full statement]

However, Penang legislative assembly speaker Abdul Halim Hussain confirmed receiving Mohammad Fairus' resignation letter.

In a press conference at his office this afternoon, Abdul Halim said he received the letter earlier today adding that all necessary arrangements were being made for a by-election.

Fairuz, 33 said in his statement that is planning to pursue his education and wants to spend more time with his family.

With Fairuz's resignation, the Election Commission (EC) is required to call for a by-election for the state seat within 60 days of being informed by the speaker of the State Assembly.

The Penanti seat is under the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency, held by PKR's leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. It has an electorate of 15,421 - of which 70% areMalays, 26.7% Chinese and 2.7% Indians.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Eli Wong agrees to remain as exco, state rep

Bukit Lanjan rep Elizabeth Wong has agreed to stay on as State Executive Councillor and assemblyman.

Wong, 37, who had tendered her resignation after revealing photos of her emerged two months ago, was earlier asked to stay on by Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

In a statement later, Wong said, "It is with the greatest humility that I accept the Selangor state’s offer to remain in office."

She also thanked the Sultan of Selangor for his guidance.

"I wish to thank mentri besar and the Selangor exco, my staff, my fellow assemblymen, fellow politicians from Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional, PKR leaders, the Women’s wing of PKR and the grassroots, and my legal team for their support and guidance," she added.

Khalid had told a press conference earlier that Wong's resignation for the two posts had been rejected by the state government.

According to Khalid, the nine members of the executive council which met earlier in the morning had unanimously agreed that she should continue as a cabinet member.

He said the state government believed rejecting her resignation was the right and just thing to do.

He reiterated that Wong was a victim and that even though it was an issue of morality, everyone was innocent until proven guilty.

Khalid had asked Wong to go on leave after she tendered her resignations.

The 10 'rebel' Terengganu BN assemblymen end boycott

All the 10 assemblymen, who boycotted the Terengganu state assembly Tuesday, turned up in full force for today's session this morning after being asked to do so by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The assemblymen - all of whom are from Umno - were said to be involved in a plan to move a motion of no-confidence against Menteri Besar Ahmad Said.

They had said yesterday they will only attend the assembly sittings if their safety could be guaranteed after three of them received ‘death threats’ through SMSes on late Monday.

However, Datuk Seri Najib, who is Umno president, ordered the state representatives yesterday to attend the state assembly sitting today - the last day of sitting.

This morning assembly session started promptly at 9.30am with all the 32 state assemblymen in attendance - 24 from the BN and eight from the opposition PAS.

According to a Bernama report, the meeting proceeded smoothly, beginning with the question-and-answer session.

Former menteri besar and Jertih state representative Idris Jusoh confirmed to reporters that the 10 assemblymen attended the sitting today after being instructed to do so by Najib.

He said a safety assurance by the police also was another reason.

Rosol Wahid (Ajil) meanwhile was reported to have said that he had submitted reports on the matter to Datuk Seri Najib, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and the Terengganu palace.

Rosol was one of the three state representatives who alleged he had received a life threatening SMS on Monday night, asking the trio to drop their plans to initiate a vote of no-confidence against MB Ahmad "if they valued their life".

The three had lodged a police report on the same day and along with seven others skipped the assembly sitting yesterday stating that they were worried for their safety.

However, Datuk Najib said he had spoken to the Mentri Besar who had denied that the threatening SMSes received by trio came from his office.

On the latest political development in Terengganu, Datuk Najib has described it as “something that is not unusual“ adding that there was no tension in the state and the issue was manageable.

“It is not a full-blown political crisis. It is not something unusual; we can manage,” he said.

Related article: Who's trying to fix up Ahmad Said: here

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Trouble brewing in Terengganu...

Malaysiakini reported that more than half of Barisan Nasional backbenchers did not turn up at Terengganu state assembly sitting today in a move related to their bid to oust Menteri Besar Ahmad Said.

Ten of the 24 BN representatives in the state assembly were said to have "boycotted" the second day of the sitting as plans are being made to force Ahmad to step down.

Another three are likely to join in, cutting thin the support Ahmad Said (pcture left) enjoyed in the assembly.

It is believed that the failure of the 10 state representatives to be present at the assembly was linked to ‘death threats’ which some of them had received yesterday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, however, has ordered (read here and here)all Barisan Nasional state representatives in Terengganu to attend the state assembly sitting, which ends tomorrow.

According to Datuk Seri Najib, the threatening SMSes sent out to three BN state representatives warning them against moving a vote of no-confidence against Menteri Besar Ahmad Said did not come from the MB's office.

Here's the report:
Late last night, three assemblypersons have lodged a police report saying that they received a SMS warning them against moving a motion of no-confidence against the MB.

Paka assemblyperson Zakaria Abdullah, Abdul Halim Jusoh (Permaisuri) and Rosol Wahid (Ajil) lodged their police reports shortly after midnight following the SMS ‘death threats’.

According to Bernama, Abdul Halim said they received the SMS at about 11.20 last night from an individual believed to be a government official.

They were warned not to proceed with their plan to oust the MB.

"As a senior state government official, he should not threaten anyone, what more a state assemblyman like me. You cannot make threats on people's lives... I don't know why I was targeted," he said.

Of the 32 seats in the state assembly, BN controls 24 while opposition has eight seats.

Guarantee over safety sought

When contacted, Rosol - perceived by many as the ring leader - said that the representatives were taking refuge in different areas out of fear for their lives.

rosol wahidRosol (photo) however denied speculations that their absence was a move to oust the menteri besar.

It is also understood that several representatives were on their way to Putrajaya to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to shed light on the recent upheavals.

And in a press conference held later in the morning, Rosol said the 10 state representatives will continue to boycott the state assembly sitting unless their safety was guaranteed.

"We will attend the last day of sitting tomorrow if the police can assure us of our safety," he said.

The 10 missing state representatives were:

Rosol Wahid (Ajil), Din Adam (Bukit Besi); Alias Abdullah (Alur Limbat); Zawawi Ismail (Kuala Berang); Abd Halim Jusoh (Permaisuri); Ramlan Ali (Jabi); Zakaria @ Mohd Ariffin Abdullah (Paka); Muhammad Ramli Nuh (Tepuh); Muhammad Pehimi Yusof (Kota Putera); Wan Abdul Hakim Wan Mokhtar (Air Putih).

Rosol also said that they had the support of three other BN representatives, who he claimed was also absent from the assembly sitting today. Their identities and whereabouts are unknown.

However in a related development later in the day, Rosol was quoted by the media as setting a condition for the arrest of the person who had sent the threatening SMS first before the 10 would return to the assembly tomorrow.

His latest reaction was a follow-up to an assurance given by the state police chief Mohd Shukri Dahlan over the security of the 10.

Mohd Shukri also said that the situation in the state was under control.

Meanwhile, the assembly speaker Tengku Putera Awang informed the assembly this morning that he did not know why so many of the BN representatives were absent today.

"When I entered the assembly this morning, I saw that many chairs were empty. I will ask them later," he said in response to a question from PAS representative Tengku Hassan Omar (Ladang).

Umno divided

Ahmad had on Saturday warned those who attempt to table a motion of no-confidence against him would face disciplinary action, including expulsion from the party.

Ruling party Umno is deeply split on the issue of who should be the state menteri besar.

Former MB Idris Jusoh was the then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s choice but this was opposed by the Palace. (read here)

The Sultan of Terengganu Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abdidin has backed Ahmad to helm the state and after a brief stand-off, Abdullah relented.

During this tense period, Rosol played a vital role in objecting the move by the Terengganu palace to replace Idris with Ahmad.

Rosol, who is a strong ally of Idris and a former state exco, canvassed large support among the BN elected representatives and the people to move the palace in reappointing Idris.

However he and the other BN representatives closed ranks following a series of talks with Abdullah and accepted Ahmad as the new MB.

He was not picked up to be a state exco and was made the Terengganu assembly backbenchers' club president.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Fairus to be charged soon ( update)

Apr 13, 09 11:54am

Former Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin is widely expected to be charged with alleged corruption very soon.

It was previously expected that he could be charged as early as this morning but an officer with the enforcement unit of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) told Malaysiakini that it will not take place today.

Earlier this morning, Fairus' lawyers were on standby to make an appearance at a short notice at the Butterworth Sessions Court.

Journalists too had packed the courthouse after news of a possible arraignment broke out over the weekend.

Mohammad Fairus, who is also the Penanti state representative, resigned from the first deputy chief minister's post effective April 8.

The MACC completed its investigations on him last week over his alleged involvement in the controversial quarry operations in Seberang Perai.

In recent months, Mohammad Fairus' role in the party and state had diminished considerably.

He was removed as the state exco in charge of religious affairs and was replaced as the state deputy head as well.

He also had to give up his post as the state football association president.

In a related development, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is expected to announce his new deputy to replace Mohammad Fairus on Wednesday.

Lim was reported as saying that he was still waiting for feedback from PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Source: Malaysiakini

Friday, 10 April 2009

New cabinet sworn in...

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's new cabinet was sworn in before the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at Istana Negara this morning.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who now holds the Education portfolio, led the newly-appointed ministers and deputy ministers in taking their oath of office.

Datuk Seri Najib was sworn in as Prime Minister last Friday and named 28 ministers and 40 deputies to his cabinet yesterday.

He retains the finance portfolio which he has held since Sept 19 last year following a portfolio swap between him and former premier Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at that time.

Present to witness the ceremony were Raja Pemaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah, Datuk Seri Najib, and former prime ministers Tun Abdullah and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The swearing-in ceremony was carried live by RTM1.

(updated 11.30am)

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Najib's Cabinet line-up (update)

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today announced his much awaited cabinet which saw eight ministers dropped and seven new faces appointed.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who won the Umno deputy presidency in last month’s party elections, was appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister.

The cabinet has been slashed from 32 ministers to 28 but the number of deputy ministers increased from 38 to 40.

At the same time, the number of ministries have been reduced from 28 to 25 with the merger of two ministries. A separate portfolio has also been created to oversee national unity under the PM's Department.

The eight ministers dropped from the new line-up are Syed Hamid Albar (Home Affairs), Muhammad Muhd Taib (Rural and Regional Development), Azalina Othman Said (Tourism), Ong Ka Chuan (Housing and Local Government), Senator Amirshah A Aziz (Minister in the PM's Department), Mohd Zin Mohamed (Works), Douglas Uggah Embas (Natural Resources and Environment) and Zulhasnan Rafique (Federal Territories).

Two of the seven appointed as full ministers were promoted from their deputy minister's posts.

Among the seven is Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon who has been appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Unity and Performance Management.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin has been conspicuosly left out, but Mukhriz Mahathir was made deputy minister of International Trade and Industry and the deputy Youth chief, Datuk Razali Ibrahim, appointed a deputy minister of the Youth and Sports ministry.

Sabah has increased its representation in the cabinet from three ministers in the previous cabinet to four while there is no change for Sarawak which has two ministers.

In a brief 15-minute statement before announciing the new line-up, Najib said the cabinet reflected the government's aim to focus on people-first paradigm.

Najib said he would personally evaluate the performance of each minister every six months.

"I will be personally involved in reviewing the progress of all ministers every six months to ensure their performance is on track, and where it is not, work with them and the civil service to ensure that we remove the barriers to their success," he said.

See chart of new cabinet

New Cabinet line-up:

Prime Minister
Najib Abdul Razak (Umno)

Deputy Prime Minister
Muhyiddin Yassin (Umno)

Ministers in the Prime Minister's Department
Dr Koh Tsu Koon - Unity Affairs and Performance Management (Gerakan)
Nazri Abdul Aziz - Minister in charge of law and Parliament (Umno)
Nor Mohamed Yaakop - Economic Planning Unit (Umno)
Major Gen Jamil Khir Baharom - Islamic Affairs (umno)
Liew Vui Keong (LDP)
Senator Dr Mashitah Ibrahim (Umno)
SK Devamany (MIC)
Ahmad Maslan (Umno)
Senator T Murugiah (PPP)

Finance Ministry
Najib Abdul Razak (1) (Umno)
Ahmad Husni Hanadzlan (2) (Umno)
Chor Chee Heong (MCA)
Senator Dr Awang Adek Hussien (Umno)

Education Ministry
Muhyiddin Yassin (Umno)
Wee Ka Siong (MCA)
Puad Zarkashi (Umno)

Transport Ministry
Ong Tee Keat (MCA)
Abdul Rahim Bakri (Umno)
Robert Lau Hoi Chew (Supp - Sarawak)

Agricultural Development and Commodities
Bernard Dompok (Upko - Sabah)
Deputy: Hamzah Zainuddin (Umno)

Home Affairs
Hishammuddin Hussien (Umno)
Abu Seman Yusop (Umno)
Jelaing Mersat (SPDP-Sarawak)

Information, Communication, Arts and Culture
Rais Yatim (Umno)
Joseph Salang Gandum (PRS-Sarawak)
Senator Heng Seai Kie (MCA)

Energy, Green Technology and Water
Peter Chin Fah Kui (Supp-Sarawak)
Deputy: Noriah Kasnon (Umno)

Rural Development and Territories
Shafie Apdal (Umno)
Hassan Malek (Umno)
Joseph Entulu Belaun (PRS-Sarawak)

Higher Education
Khaled Nordin (Umno)
Dr Hou Kok Chung (MCA)
Saifuddin Abdullah (Umno)

International Trade and Industry
Mustapa Mohamad (Umno)
Mukhriz Mahathir (Umno)
Jacob Dungau Sagan (SPDP-Sarawak)

Science, Technology and Innovation
Dr Maximus Ongkili (PBS - Sabah)
Deputy: Fadillah Yusof (PBB - Sarawak)

Ng Yen Yen (MCA)
Deputy: Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Abdul Taib (PBB-Sarawak)

Noh Omar (UmnO)
Johari Baharom (Umno)
Rohani Abdul Karim (PBB-Sarawak)

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (Umno)
Deputy: Abdul Latif Ahmad (Umno)

Shaziman Abu Mansor (Umno)
Deputies: Yong Khoon Seng (Supp-Sarawak)

Liow Tiong Lai (MCA)
Rosnah Rashid Shilin (Umno)

Youth and Sports
Ahmad Shabery Cheek (Umno)
Razali Ibrahim (Umno)
Wee Jeck Seng (MCA)

Human Resource
Dr S Subramaniam (MIC)
Deputy: Maznah Mazlan (Umno)

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs
Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Umno)
Deputy: Tan Lian Hoe (Gerakan)

Housing and Local Government
Kong Cho Ha (MCA)
Deputy: Lajim Ukin (Umno)

Women, Family and Society Development
Senator Sharizat Abdul Jalil (Umno)
Deputy: Senator Chew Mei Fun (MCA)

Anifah Aman (Umno)
Senator A Kohilan Pillay (Gerakan)
Senator Lee Chee Leong (MCA)

Federal Territories
Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin (Umno)
Deputy: M Saravanan (MIC)

Altantuya murder: Death for Sirul, Azilah

Two police special action force personnel - Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, 33, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, 37 - were sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court this morning for the murder of Mongolian national Altantunya Shaarriibuu three years ago, Malaysiakini reports.

Apr 9, 09 9:46am

The duo were found guilty of murdering Altantuya, who was then 28, at Lot 12843 and Lot 16735 Mukim Bukit Raja near here, between 10 pm, Oct 19 and 1 am, Oct 20, 2006.

Lead prosecutor Tun Majid Tun Hamzah said the prosecution was satisfied as it had proved that no one else was involved.

Sirul's lawyer Hasnal Rezua Merican said he would be filing an appeal.

Altantunya, who was brutally murdered and her body blown to bits with C4 explosives in the remote jungle clearing, has become a household name in this country.

The case received overwhelming attention when political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda - a close aide of newly-minted Prime Minister Najib Abdul - was charged with abetting the murder.

However, he was later acquitted and this sparked off a fresh round of speculations that the powers-that-be had a hand in it.

On Oct 31, 2008, the political analyst walked out a free man after the court found that the prosecution had failed to furnish proof on an important element on the conspiracy charge.

Testimony from the dock

Speculations have been rife that both Sirul and Azilah have been made scapegoats to protect certain luminaries. Both accused completed their own defence without any witnesses.

Azilah, 33 - represented by counsel Hazman Ahmad and J Kuldeep Kumar - presented his verbal testimony from the dock while Sirul Azhar, 37, represented by Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin, Hasnal Redzua Marican and Ahmad Zaidi Zainal - chose to read out a written testimony also from the dock.

The prosecution team consisting of Deputy Public Prosecutor Tun Abdul Majid Tun Hamzah, Noorin Badaruddin, Manoj Kurup and Hanim Rashid stressed in their submissions that Azilah and Sirul Azhar were the people behind Altantuya's murder.

Based on the evidence gathered from prosecution witnesses, the explosives used to blow up Altantuya's body was probably placed in her mouth, they said.

The case has set many records including one for having the longest hearing (159 days) with 84 witnesses at the prosecution stage and two at the defence stage.

According to records, Azilah has been incarcerated at the Sungai Buloh prison for 891 days while Sirul Azhar has been in for 895 days.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Najib to announce new cabinet tomorrow

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will be announcing his cabinet at 3pm at the PM's Department tomorrow.

A statement from the PM's Office today said Najib will meet the Yang di Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin at 11am to seek his consent before his announcement.

The ministers and deputy ministers will take heir oaths of office, loyalty and secrecy at 9.30am on Friday at the Istana Negara.

Najib, who is tipped to unveil a streamlined cabinet aimed at helping him push through promised reforms, will make the announcement before leaving for Thailand to attend the Asean+3meeting in Pattaya tomorrow.

The New Straits Times reported today that the premier has yet to meet with all its partners in the Barisan Nasional coalition on the formation of his new line-up.

He, has, however, met MCA chief Ong Tee Keat and Gerakan chief Koh Tsu Koon as well as leaders from a few other minor component parties.

This morning, he had separate meetings with MIC president S Samy Vellu and PBB supremo Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Najib is likely to trim the cabinet size from the current 27 ministries with 32 minister, and is said to be considering the merger of several ministries to between 20 and 24.

Coalition parties have been told they may get fewer seats.

Umno insiders said he could retain the number of ministries but create a new council of ministers comprising only senior members and that only these people would have full Cabinet status.

Najib, they say, is likely to retain the finance portfolio - seen as critical during the global economic crisis - and that Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is tipped to be deputy prime minister and defence minister.

Speculation is rife that the youth and sports minister post, which is traditionally-slotted for Umno Youth chief, will not be given to Khairy Jamaluddin.

Najib's annoucement tomorrow will be broadcast live by RTM.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

BN wins Batang Ai; Pakatan retains Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang

It is a status quo in the tri-election with Pakatan Rakyat again winning both the Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah and the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak and Barisan Nasional retaining the Batang Ai state seat in Sarawak.

In the hotly contested seat of Bukit Selambau, PKR's S. Manikumar, 55, defeated BN's S. Ganesan, with a 2,396-vote majority. He polled 12,632 votes against Ganesan's 10,229.

The Bukit Selambau by-election created a record for having the most number of candidates – 15 altogther, 13 of them independents.

All the independent candidates - including Major (Rtd) Anuar Abd Hamid who secured the highest votes (528) among them - lost their deposits.

In Bukit Gantang, Pakatan retained the parliamentary seat when Pas's Nizar Jamaluddin, defeated BN candidate Ismail Saffian with a 2,789-majority.

The 52-year-old former Menteri Besar, who was unceremoniously and controversially "kicked out" of office, garnered 21,860 votes while Ismail obtained 19,071 votes. The third candidate Kamarul Ramizu only managed to secure 62 votes and lost his deposit.

Pas mproved its vote count by 1,845 votes compared with the 20,015 votes it garnered in 2008.

In Batang Ai, th BN retained the state seat after its candidate, Malcolm Mussen Lamoh, won with a 1,854-vote majority.

Newcomer Mussen, a former engineer with the Sarawak Agriculture Department, garnered 3,907 votes to defeat veteran politician Jawah Gerang, the former five-term Lubok Antu Member of Parliament, who obtained 2,053 votes, in a straight fight.


Earlier report:

Malaysiakini live report

Counting of votes for the the Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai by-elections began at 5.30pm and results are expected after 10pm. However, counting for some ballot boxes in Batang Ai started at 3pm.

9.20pm Bukit Gantang OFFICIAL RESULTS

Mohd Jamaluddin Nizar (PAS) 21,860
Ismail Saffian (BN-Umno) 19,071
Kamarul Ramizu Idris (Ind) 62

Majority - 2,789 (In 2008, the majority was 1,566)

8.58pm Manikumar wins Bukit Selambau

With all 22 polling boxes counted, Manikumar retained the seat for PKR by winning with a 2,396-vote majority, a slightly higher margin than in the 2008 general elections.

UNOFFICIAL PKR retains Bukit Selambau - PKR's Manikumar wins the seat to retain the status quo in the state assembly.

With only one more polling box to be counted, Manikumar is leading with a 2,092-vote majority. He has been leading in this race from the time the first box was counted.

UNOFFICIAL PAS wins Bukit Gantang PAS 20,021, BN 17,076, Independent 56. Majority 2,945.

PAS Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin leaves the party’s operation centre in Air Kuning in an open hatch SUV, and waves to supporters as if he has just won the US presidential race.

Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS 18,881, BN 15,859, Independent 51. Majority 3,022.

PAS appeared to have an almost unassailable lead with 83.46% of the votes counted and is likely to win this by-election with an increased majority.

8.15pm Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS 16,316, BN 14,061, Independent 40. Majority 2,255.

So far, 64 percent of the votes cast have been tallied.

8.10pm Bukit Selambau Unofficial Results PKR's Manikumar is headed for a big victory. With 17 polling stations counted, he has 2,311 votes. There are only five more centres to go.

In the last general election, V Arumugam got 2,362-vote majority.

7.52pm Bukit Selambau Unofficial Results With 15 polling stations counted, PKR is still leading with a majority of 1,294. Seven more polling stations are uncounted.

Meanwhile, the MIC operations centre in Sungai Petani is deserted with all party supporters gone.


BN's Malcolm Mussem Lamoh (3,907 votes) has beaten PKR's Jawah Gerang (1,854). The majority is 2,053.

7.40pm Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS 14,720, BN 12,142, Independent 32. Majority 2,577.

More than half of the votes cast have been tallied.

PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa said, "As for now, we're heading towards a landslide victory."

The Islamic party has won Kuala Sepetang, the fishing village which is 97 per cent Chinese. This is the area where BN stirred a controversy over a team of go-go girls performing at its campaign dinner.

7.39pm Bukit Selambau Unofficial Results PKR is leading by 1,080 votes after 10 polling stations have been counted. There are 12 more polling stations left.

7.39pm Batang Air Unofficial results - the final unofficial tally:

BN 3,450, PKR 1,790. Majority 1,660

7.27pm Bukit Selambau Unofficial Results With eight polling stations counted, PKR is leading by 1,225 votes. These eight polling areas consist largely of Indian and Chinese voters. There are 14 more polling stations to be counted.

7.25pm Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS 11,375, BN 8,998, Independent 29. Majority 2,377.

Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS 9,423, BN 6,997, Independent 25. Majority 2,426.

About 40 percent of the 41,000 votes have so far been counted.

PAS candidate Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin and wife, Perak speaker V Sivakumar and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong, Gopeng MP and PKR VP Lee Boon Chai are at the PAS operation centre.

Bukit Selambau
Unofficial results After counting five out of 22 polling centres, PKR's Manikumar is leading by 937 votes.

7.10pm Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS 8,932, BN 6,584, Independent 24. Majority 2,348.

7.01pm Bukit Selambau Unofficial results After counting four streams of out 64, PKR's S Manikumar is leading by 578 votes.

Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS' Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin has increased his lead over BN-Umno's Ismail Saffain. PAS 7,294, BN 4,670, Independent 17. Majority 2,624.

PAS 7,294, BN 4,670, Independent 17. Majority 2,624.

There is an electric atmosphere in PAS operations centre when the party won big in Changkat Ibol voting district - a PAS stronghold.

6.50pm Bukit Selambau It is a tight race here, admits a MIC leader.

6.44pm Bukit Gantang Unofficial results PAS 4,929, BN 3,161, Independent 9. Majority 1,768.

6.25pm Batang Ai UNOFFICIAL: BN wins Batang Ai. It is leading with an unassailable majority of 1,600 after 21 of 24 boxes have been counted.

5pm POLLING CLOSES in Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Batang Ai. Counting of votes for the two Bukits is expected to commence at 5.30pm. For Batang Ai, counting started at 3pm.

Voting begins in tri-elections...

The three by-elections are being closely watched not only because of the heightened political scenario but also due to some “firsts” they created.

It was the first time three by-elections will be held in the country on the same day and the first time 15 candidates will fight for a seat.

Also, for the first time, a former mentri besar, who is still an assemblyman, is contesting a parliamentary seat in a by-election.

All in all, 20 candidates are contesting.

The Bukit Selambau state seat in Kedah has a record number of 15 candidates -- the highest ever in the country’s election history.

Barisan, under the fresh leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak which promises change under the 1Malaysia concept, has put a lot of pressure on its opponents, with even former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who has just rejoined Umno, on the campaign trail.

The Opposition meanwhile believes that Malaysian voters are still supporting PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Voting starts at 8am and ends at 5pm. The results are expected in between 9pm and 11pm.

Bukit Gantang (P59)
The Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election will see a three-cornered fight between Barisan Nasional’s Ismail Saffian, 49, former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, 52, of PAS and independent Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

Malays make up 63.5% of the 55,562 voters in Bukit Gantang, followed by Chinese (27.1% ), Indians (9.1%) and others (0.2%).

Bukit Selambau (N25):
Some 13 independent candidates are up against Barisan Nasional’s S. Ganesan and PKR’s S. Manikumar.

There are 35,140 voters registered in Bukit Selambau.

Batang Ai (N29)
The Batang Ai by-election will see a straight fight between Barisan Na­­sional newcomer Malcom Mussem Lamoh, 49, who will face former five-term Lubok Antu MP Jawah Gerang, 55, in this rural, predominantly Iban constituency.

The Batang Ai constituency, located near the Sarawak-Kalimantan border, fell vacant following the death of assemblyman Datuk Dublin Unting on Feb 24.

It has 8,006 registered voters, about 95% of whom are Ibans. - The star

Live coverage by the Star click here and Malaysiakini (for subscribers only) here.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Dr Mathathir hits the campaign trail...(update)

Two days after submitting his application to rejoin Umno, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad hit the campaign trail to lend support to the Barisan Nasional for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election tomorrow.

This is the first time the former prime minister is campaigning for Barisan in any by-election after his retirement six years ago.

Dr Mahathir was greeted by a crowd of about 2,000 who shouted shouted "Hidup Tun" and "Hidup Mahathir". Many tried to shake his hand and to get a photograph with him.

Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is leading the by-election campaign in Bt Gantang, and other party leaders were at the event to welcome him.

Dr Mahathir's presence here today is expected to give Barisan an edge in the Bukit Gantang by-election in which its candidate, Ismail Safian, is facing ousted Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin and an Independent, businessman Kamarul Ramizu Idris.

The Star has the story below:

TAIPING: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has openly given his stamp of approval to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak’s administration, saying that the current government was truly “the people’s government.”

The former premier said his confidence in Najib grew following his willingness to get up close and personal with the people by meeting them on the ground in his second day as prime minister.

“I have full confidence that Datuk Seri Najib can correct the problems currently plaguing the country, and also confident that he would bring Malaysia to new heights to benefit all the races in the country,” he told a crowd of thousands at Dataran PPP near here Monday.

Later, he said he would not accept a senior minister’s post in the Cabinet if offered, but was willing to advise the Government in an unofficial capacity.

Najib is widely expected to unveil his new Cabinet line-up on Wednesday

Dr Mahathir was in Bukit Gantang at the invitation of Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is heading the Barisan Nasional machinery for the three by-elections -- Bukit Gantang here in Perak, Bukit Selambau in Kedah and Batang Ai in Sarawak.

This is the first time in the nearly six years since he left office that the premier of 22 years has hit the campaign trail.

Mahathir, who rejoined Umno on Saturday, expressed his hope that the many members who had left the party would also return to its fold.

“Times have changed. The government today is truly for the people. So I am urging those who had left Umno, please come back,” he said, adding that he was confident that the current administration would be taking steps to address people’s unhappiness.

He also said that street demonstrations were not part of Malaysian culture and were a waste of time.

“What do we get by demonstrating on the streets, except to cause damage? Dialogue is the best way to resolve unhappiness and differences. If we are still unhappy with the government, then show it through the ballot boxes,” he added.

He also expressed his appreciation to the thousands of people who had gathered at the field an hour before his arrival at 10am.

“I feel I am truly back in Umno. Thank you for the welcome, although some people had told me to be prepared for spoilt eggs,” he said to thunderous applause.

Dr Mahathir was truly in his element when campaigning for Barisan, always referring to the Opposition as “the other side” with his trademark dry wit.

He is scheduled to hit the campaign trail in Bukit Selambau later Monday.

...and Thousands dine with Nizar, April 5: Read Zorro's entry here .

Sunday, 5 April 2009

All 13 ISA detainees released today

All 13 ISA detainees, including the two leaders of the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) V. Ganabatirau and R. Kenghadharan, were released from the Kamunting Detention Camp in Perak this afternoon.

Three foreigners - Indian national Sundaraj Vijay and two Myanmar nationals, San Khaing and Amir Hussain - were the first group to leave the centre.

The trio, who were detained since 2007, were taken out in an Immigration Department four-wheel-drive vehicle at 10.45am accompanied by another car with several immigration officers inside.

This was followed by Ganabatirau and Kengadharan at 1.20pm and the remaining eight detainees -- seven from Darul Islam Sabah and one from terror network Jemaah Islamiah -- at 1.25pm.

Yesterday, Inspector-General of Police Musa Hassan was quoted as saying that the detainees will leave the detention centre today after all the documentation process are completed.

On Friday, Najib Abdul Razak in his first address to the nation as prime minister announced that the 13 ISA detainess will be released.

He also pledged to conduct a comprehensive review of the draconian legislation.

Meanwhile, former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi lauded his successor’s move to release the 13.

"It is good decision. A good move. I am sure the time has come for them to be released, so he released them," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Freed ISA detainees to leave Kamunting tomorrow

The 13 freed Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees will be allowed to leave the Kamunting Detention Centre near Taiping on Sunday, said Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan on Saturday.

He said that they could not be released immediately because the documentation process has to be completed first.

"We will release all of them tomorrow after the documentation process has been completed" he told Bernama.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in his maiden address over television last night as the new prime minister, had announced the immediate release of the 13 ISA detainees. (read here).

Two Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders, V. Ganabatirau and R. Kenghadharan, were among the detainees to be released. They had been held since Dec 13, 2007.

The others include seven members of the Darul Islam group Binsali Omar, A. Artas A. Burhanudin, Idris Lanama, Francis Indanan, Mohd Nazri Dollah, Pakana Selama and Mohd Arasad Patangari who were detained in 2006 and were to have been held until the end of next year.

Also to be released are three foreigners Sundaraj Vijay of India and San Khaing and Amir Hussain of Myanmar who were detained in 2007 for falsifying documents, and one member of the Jemaah Islamiah Wan Amin Wan Hamat who was detained in 2003 and was to have been held until 2011.

Dr M returns to Umno

Former PM Mahathir rejoins Umno - The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has officially applied to become a member of Umno again and party president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak welcomed it saying that it would help revive and strengthen the party.

The simple yet meaningful ceremony also saw Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali and the couple’s son, Datuk Mokhzani submitting their Umno membership application forms, with RM1 fee attached to it.

“This is a very meaningful occassion as we witnessed the return of (Tun) Dr Mahathir into the party-fold. I would like to thank Tun (Dr Mahathir) for his willingness to continue his struggles through Umno.

“As a statesman, Tun (Dr Mahathir) can play a big role in efforts to strengthen the party as well as Barisan Nasional.

“Dr Mahathir’s decision to re-join Umno brings a closure to an episode in Umno. This is also an opening of a new chapter where past and present leaders of Umno can work together to uphold the party.

“On behalf of everyone in Umno, I would like to welcome the family back into the party,” said Najib after receiving the three application forms.

The new Umno president said that Dr Mahathir and Dr Siti Hasmah would get to keep their old membership number which was 000001 and 000002 respectively.

Dr Mahathir had quit the party in May last year, citing his lack of confidence in the party’s leadership.

Najib, who is also the Prime Minister said Dr Siti Hasmah,who had also contributed to the party and the nation, could play an integral role to restore Umno as women in the party played an important role.

He said Dr Mahathir’s return to Umno was a positive development, adding it would be an advantage for Barisan when the latter goes to the ground to help campaign in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections ( Dr M on special mission; read here).

Asked if he would seek advice from Dr Mahathir regarding party and national matters, Najib said he appreciated advice from everyone.

“I value the advise and views from all quarters, including from Tun (Dr Mahathir) and Pak Lah (Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi).

“It does not matter if there are differences of views but what is important is they are inclusive in the process of strengthening Umno,” Najib said.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Najib releases 13 ISA detainees

In his maiden speech as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the release of 13* Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees and the government's decision to remove the three-month ban imposed on Harakah and Suara Keadilan, the official organs of PAS and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), respectively, last month.

Datuk Najib also pledged to conduct a comprehensive review of the ISA which has been regarded as controversial.

"These decisions are timely as we move to enhance the confidence of our citizens in those entrusted with maintaining peace, law and order, while recognising the need to remain vigilant of the very real security threats we continue to face as a young nation," he said in his address to the nation which was telecast live by RTM 1 and TV3.

Declaring the slogan of "One Malaysia. People First. Performance Now", Najib invited all the people of Malaysia to join him in the task of renewing Malaysia.

He also promised to remain focused in providing strong leadership to lead the people out of the current economic crisis which has hit the world, including Malaysia.

"I will be steadfast in my commitment to meet the needs, aspirations and concerns of all Malaysians," he said.

Najib was sworn in as the country's sixth prime minister this morning.

Full text of Najib's speech; here

* Following is the list of 13 Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees released immediately, as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tonight:

1. Pakana Selama

2. Amir Hussain

3. Sundaraj Vijay

4. San Khaing

5. R. Kenghadharan

6. V. Ganabatirau

7. Wan Amin Wan Hamat

8. A Artas A Burhanuddin

9. Francis Indanan

10. Mohd Nazri Dollah

11. Mohd Arasad Patangari

12. Idris Lanama

13. Binsali Omar

Najib is Malaysia's sixth Prime Minister

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today was sworn in today as Malaysia's sixth Prime Minister before the Yang di Pertuan Agung Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin. - Malaysiakini.

He takes over from Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who stepped down after leading the country for over five years.

The ceremony was witnessed by Court of Appeal president Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, the two previous Prime Ministers, Datuk Seri Abdullah and Tun Dr Mahthir Mohamad.

Other dignitaries present included cabinet ministers, menteris besar, the Dewan Negara president and the Dewan Rakyat speaker.

At the same ceremony, Tuanku Mizan conferred the the nation’s highest award the Seri Maharaja Mangku Negara (SMN) to Abdullah and the Seri Setia Mahkota (SSM) to his wife, Jeanne. Both awards carry the title Tun.

Prime minister Najib is scheduled to attend Friday prayers at the National Mosque at 2pm.

He will also pay his respects to his father's tomb at the mosque. His father Abdul Razak Hussein was the nation's second prime minister.

Abdullah is expected to hand over the official office to his successor at 4pm in Putrajaya, after which Najib will be giving his first press conference as the prime minister.

Najib will also be attending a tahlil prayer session at his residence in Kuala Lumpur at 7pm.

He will then address the nation at 8.10pm which will be carried live on national television.

Najib's accession to the country's top post completes a transition triggered by elections last year that saw the ruling Umno put in its worst ever performance.

Abdullah tendered his resignation yesterday, after agreeing several months ago to step down in the fallout from polls that transformed Malaysia's political landscape.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

It's confirmed: Najib will be sworn in tomorrow, 3 April - Chief Secretary

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will be sworn in as prime minister at 10am on Friday, Chief Secretary to the government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said.

Mohd Sidek had said in a statement - earlier yesterday - which was reported by Bernama that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin has given his consent to the swearing-in ceremony.

However, later, the office of the Chief Secretary to the government said that it had issued the statement prematurely, and Bernama issued a note to editors asking for the story on the swearing in to be ignored. But a few hours later, the office of the Chief Secretary finally released the statement confirming the swearing-in ceremony.

Najib To Be Sworn In Friday - Chief Secretary
April 01, 2009 23:23 PM

PUTRAJAYA, April 1 (Bernama) -- The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin has given his consent for Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to be sworn in as prime minister at 10am on Friday, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said.

In a statement issued here Wednesday night, he said Tuanku Mizan had also consented to grant an audience to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib at 10am tomorrow for Abdullah to relinquish the post and seek consent to appoint Najib as the new prime minister.

Tuanku Mizan gave his consent at an audience with Abdullah before the cabinet meeting this morning.

The King had given his consent for Najib to be presented his letter of appointment as prime minister and to take his oath of office, loyalty and confidentiality at Istana Negara at 10am on Friday, the statement said.-- BERNAMA

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Najib to be sworn in on Friday ...?

Ministers and their deputies have received invitations on Monday to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the new prime minister in Istana Negara on Friday, according to Malaysiakini .

A deputy minister contacted by Malaysiakini but who declined to be named, confirmed receiving the invitation via the Short Messaging System (SMS) Monday morning.

The SMS reads: 'Istiadat pengurniaan surat cara perlantikan dan istiadat mengangkat sumpah jawatan dan setia serta sumpah simpan rahsia oleh YAB Dato' Sri Mohd Najib sebagai PM.'

Apart from listing out the dress code for the function, the SMS also stated that the time for the swearing-in ceremony was at 9am.

It is learnt that invitations were also sent to menteris besar and chief ministers, including from the Pakatan Rakyat-ruled states.On Thursday, outgoing premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to meet the King regarding the transition of power issue.

However until last Sunday, Abdullah had refused to state the date for handing over the reins and told the media not to pester him on the issue.

Incoming premier Najib Abdul Razak too has remained tightlipped on the matter.

Najib, who was quizzed on the purported swearing-in ceremony when he visited the Sin Chew Daily office in Petaling Jaya yesterday, said any question on the actual date of the transfer of power will only be known after the official statement is issued by the Prime Minister's Department.

"This has to wait for the official statement, I can't make the official statement," he was quoted as saying by Bernama.

(Its kiinda strange, isnt it? Why was the invitation sent by sms? Why no official invitation when the swearing-in ceremony is a historic event ?? Maybe an official inviation will follow??.)