Anwar's wife wins by-election for his parliamentary seat

Anwar's wife wins by-election for his parliamentary seat
Supporters of opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the ruling Barisan Nasional clashing with each other at SK Tanah Liat in Kubang Semang, Penang yesterday. The atmosphere on polling day was tense.

KUALA LUMPUR - The wife of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim comfortably retained his Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in Penang in a tense by-election yesterday.

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) secured the seat with a reduced majority of 8,841, which came on the back of a lower turnout of 74 per cent. Her husband took the seat in 2013 by 11,721 votes on a turnout of 88.3 per cent.

The seat was left vacant after he was disqualified following the Federal Court decision in February this year to uphold his five-year jail term for sodomising a male aide.

Dr Wan Azizah, 63, was in a four-cornered fight against Barisan Nasional's (BN) Suhaimi Sabudin, Parti Rakyat Malaysia's Azman Shah Othman and independent Salleh Isahak.

Both Mr Salleh and Mr Azman will lose their RM10,000 (S$3,715) deposit after getting 367 and 101 votes respectively.

PKR's campaign was largely centred on the goods and services tax (GST) and, during the campaign, constantly told voters that a vote for BN was a vote for GST.

But the opposition party was also saddled with fears about a boycott by supporters of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), its partner in an increasingly fraying opposition coalition.

PAS Youth initially called for a boycott after PKR allegedly insulted PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang over the Islamic party's push to introduce the Islamic criminal code or hudud, which allows flogging and amputation, among other forms of punishment.

On Friday, there was a minor fracas outside a mosque following a heated argument between a group of PAS and PKR supporters.

But PAS' youth wing eventually reversed its decision and helped PKR in the campaign for Permatang Pauh.

This is the second time that Dr Wan Azizah has stepped in for her husband in the constituency.

She did so after her husband was jailed following his first sodomy trial in 1999 and went on to win the the seat four times, including in 1999, 2004 and 2008.

In 2008, however, she resigned several months after winning to pave the way for Anwar to return to Parliament.

Permatang Pauh therefore remains a symbol of support for Anwar and the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

PKR supporters cheered and shouted "reformasi" as the returning officer declared Dr Wan Azizah the winner yesterday.

The atmosphere on polling day was tense as scuffles broke out between supporters of PKR and BN.

A police officer and a blogger were injured during a clash between the two sets of supporters in SK Tanah Liat.

Mr Mahathir Mohammad, a blogger and freelance journalist with KLXpress, received eight stitches after sustaining head injuries while filming the rowdy crowd.

A police bomb squad was locked within a school compound by party supporters when investigating a bomb threat.

Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof admitted there were cases where voters did not use their own identity cards to cast their ballots amid claims of phantom voters by PKR.

"I wouldn't consider it serious enough to declare the election results invalid, because there are probably less than 10 such cases for more than 70,000 voters here," Tan Sri Abdul Aziz told a press conference at the Multimedia and Communications Ministry's Media Centre in Permatang Pauh yesterday.

asruls@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on May 08, 2015.
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