Voting begins for Semenyih by-election

The ‘early birds’ waiting for the Kampung Sesapan Kelubi village security and development committee voting centre in Beranang to open this morning.

SEMENYIH: Polling centres opened at 8am for the Semenyih by-election, with three of the four candidates joining the early voters.

More than 53,000 people are eligible to cast their ballots.

The “early birds” had gathered at the polling stations long before they were allowed in.

Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Muhammad Aiman Zainali, 30, from PPBM, cast his vote at SMK Engku Husain in Kampung Baru Semenyih.

Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Zakaria Hanafi, 58, from Umno, voted at the Kampung Sesapan Kelubi village security and development committee (JKKK) voting centre in Beranang.

PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul, 25, a “local boy” like Aiman and Zakaria, voted at the Dewan Orang Ramai Semenyih near here.

Independent candidate Kuan Chee Hong, 56, better known as “Uncle Kentang” or the “10-sen man”, is not a registered voter in Semenyih, but he dropped by some of the polling stations today.

Hulu Langat PPBM treasurer Aiman is the son-in-law of the late Semenyih incumbent assemblyman Bakthiar Mohd Nor. He is an electrical engineer.

Barisan Nasional candidate Zakaria Hanafi, accompanied by his wife, waving to supporters at the polling centre at Dewan Khidmat Masyarakat in Beranang.

Zakaria is a former Kampung Sesepan Kelubi Umno branch permanent chairman and is now an ordinary Umno member.

They are up against PSM activist Nik Aziz, a traditional massage business owner, as well as philanthropist Kuan, a former police officer.

Kuan had previously introduced the “Pasar 10 sen” or “10 sen market”, where the less fortunate could buy donated items, such as a washing machine or pieces of clothing, for 10 sen. He also gives out potatoes to the poor.

Earlier today, Kuan said he expected fewer than 500 votes, and to lose his deposit.

“I will be beaten to pulp in the Semenyih by-election … but at least I dared and tried,” he said on Facebook this morning, thanking his well-wishers and supporters.

The RM5,000 deposit paid to the Election Commission to contest in a state seat is forfeited if the candidate fails to obtain one-eighth of the total votes cast.

Polling is from 8am to 5.30pm.

Semenyih has a total of 53,411 registered ordinary voters, based on the EC’s 2018 third quarter electoral roll.

Early voting took place on Tuesday.

The seat comprises 69% Malays, 16.8% Chinese and 13% Indians. It is part of the Hulu Langat parliamentary constituency.

The EC is expecting a 70% voter turnout today, about 1% more than the total in last May’s general election.

The by-election was triggered by the death of Bakthiar, of PPBM, from a heart attack on Jan 11. He had won a four-cornered contest in May with a 8,964 vote majority.

He received 23,428 votes to defeat the BN candidate who garnered 14,464 votes, and candidates from PAS (6,966 votes) and PSM (1,293 votes).

The by-election is the sixth to be held in the country since GE14, after the by-elections for the Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia and Balakong state seats in Selangor, and the Cameron Highlands and Port Dickson parliamentary seats in Pahang and Negeri Sembilan, respectively.

PH won four of the by-elections – three in Selangor and the other in Port Dickson, where PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim staged his political comeback – but lost in Cameron Highlands in January to BN.