PKR vows not to use govt machinery in Rantau

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim at the nominations for the Rantau by-election.

SEREMBAN: PKR will not use government machinery during the Rantau by-election campaign, vowed party president Anwar Ibrahim.

His pledge came just hours after cars belonging to the Negeri Sembilan state assembly speaker and deputy speaker were seen near the nomination centre.

Speaking to reporters after Pakatan Harapan candidate Dr Streram Sinnasamy was confirmed as one of the four candidates in the race for the vacant state seat, Anwar said he had advised party members not to go to “extremes” in campaigning.

He also said he was aware of electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0’s allegation that PH had already committed an election offence after an MP was said to have given food coupons to underprivileged students in Rantau, reportedly at Streram’s request.

“But we leave it to the SPR (Election Commission or EC),” Anwar said.

“(The Negeri Sembilan) menteri besar (Aminuddin Harun) and the deputy prime minister (Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail) are here, and we won’t use government machinery to get votes.

“That’s our principle.

“We have been observing Umno going house to house to give money (to cast their vote Barisan Nasional’s way),” he claimed, asking: “That is not considered a problem?”

Bersih had yesterday questioned the presentation of food coupons to underprivileged students in Rantau by Miri MP Dr Michael Teo, who said Streram had asked for this. This, said Bersih, was an offence under Section 8 of the Election Offences Act 1954.

This is despite the campaigning period not having started yet at the time or that the food was given to children (who are not voters), which was what Streram said to defend Michael later on.

Earlier today, official vehicles of the Negeri Sembilan state assembly speaker and his deputy were seen outside the nomination centre here at SJK (C) Bandar Seri Sendayan, which some would also construe as misuse of government machinery.

Anwar said he was confident of a favourable outcome in the polls, while Wan Azizah urged voters to give Streram a chance, saying the by-election was only called because of his efforts to fight last year’s general election decision on the Rantau seat.

Last year, Rantau incumbent Mohamad Hasan was declared the winner of the seat after Streram, the PH candidate, was prevented from entering the nomination centre as he did not have a pass from the EC, which is not a requirement for a potential candidate.

Earlier today, the nominations of Mohamad, Streram and two independent candidates, housewife and Port Dickson-born Malar Rajaram and former teacher and lecturer Mohd Nor Yasin, were accepted by the returning officer.

Campaigning for the by-election will last 14 days, beginning today.

Polling will take place on April 13 and early voting on April 9.

There are a total of 29,926 registered voters, about 55% of whom are Malays, 26% Indians and 19% Chinese.

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

Meanwhile, when asked about the MIC’s statement that it would sue Streram if he did not prove a claim that an MIC member had attacked a local PKR branch leader yesterday, Streram said he would leave it to his lawyers.

It was reported yesterday that Taman Cempaka branch PKR chief K Suresh was attacked by a man while clearing some bushes in the area. He escaped with a cut on his left arm.

Streram claimed the attacker was from MIC.

MIC deputy president M Saravanan today described it as a “desperate claim” and a “monkey trick”, urging Streram not to be so dramatic.