4 independents for former PAS spiritual leader's seat

KOTA BARU - Chempaka by-election candidate Ahmad Fathan Mahmood @ Mahamad of PAS will see a challenge from four independent contenders for the seat.

The announcement was made by Election Commission returning officer Ibrahim Bakri Mat Deris here yesterday.

Ahmad Fathan will face independent candidates Shariff Mahmood, former Kelantan Perkasa secretary Aslah Mamat, Bumi Rahmat Kelantan president Tengku Fadzilah Husin and Pengkalan Kubor by­-election contender Izat Bukhari Ismail Bukhari.

The Chempaka state seat, within the Pengkalan Chepa parliamentary constituency, fell vacant following the death of former Kelantan mentri besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat on Feb 12.

Nik Aziz beat Barisan Nasional candidate Wan Razman Wan Abdul Razak by 6,500 votes in the 13th general election.

Chempaka, located about 6km from Kota Baru, has 21,860 registered voters, of which 98 per cent are Malays while the rest are Chinese and Indians. Most of the voters in this sleepy hollow are either farmers or small-scale businessmen.

When met by reporters, Ahmad Fathan said he was banking on his past experience in administration management to help the constituents if he wins.

The 42-year-old father of seven has an illustrious education background with degrees from the prestigious Al-Azhar University, Damascus University and Universiti Malaya.

"I felt humbled that I was chosen to be the one tasked to continue the services of the late Tok Guru (Nik Aziz).

"I will use the Islamic approach synonymous with the PAS policies, and I will maintain respect for my contenders," he said after filing his nomination papers yesterday.

In Kuala Lumpur, Barisan publicity and information bureau chairman Datuk Ahmad Maslan said Barisan was not sponsoring any of the independent candidates in Chempaka.