RANTAU: The 14 voting centres for the Rantau by-election opened at 8am today, with three of the four candidates joining the early birds to cast their ballots.
Rantau incumbent and Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Mohamad Hasan and independent candidate Malar Rajaram voted at SJK (C) Chung Hua.
Malar arrived at 6.40am, and Mohamad just before 8.30am. They cast their votes before 9am.
Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Dr Streram Sinnasamy voted at SJK (T) Rantau. He arrived at 8.25am and voted some 10 minutes later.
The fourth candidate, independent Mohd Nor Yassin, is not a registered voter in Rantau. He is a voter in Gemencheh, another state constituency in Negeri Sembilan.
Polling is from 8am to 5.30pm.
The Election Commission (EC) is expecting a 70% turnout today.
The results will be announced at the SJK (C) Bandar Sri Sendayan multi-purpose hall tonight.
Seremban district deputy police chief Mohd Rosli Ishak urged the contesting parties not to create any provocations when voters go out to vote, saying the “momentum” of the “peaceful” campaign period should be maintained.
He also told reporters at SJK (T) Rantau that voters should come out early to avoid heavy traffic.
There are a total of 20,793 registered voters in Rantau, 55% of whom are Malays, 26% Indians and 19% Chinese.
In the general election last May, Mohamad was declared the winner of the seat after Streram, his sole rival, was denied entry into the nomination centre because he did not have a pass from the EC.
The Election Court later declared Mohamad’s victory null and void following an appeal by Streram, and the Federal Court upheld the Election Court’s decision when it dismissed an appeal filed by Mohamad.
Rantau is one of the 36 seats in the Negeri Sembilan state legislative assembly. PH now holds 20 of the seats and BN 15.
The Rantau state seat is part of the Rembau parliamentary constituency, held by Umno’s Khairy Jamaluddin. The other state seats in the constituency are Paroi, Chembong and Kota.
The by-election is the seventh to be held in the country since GE14, after the by-elections 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.
PH has 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 and Semenyih to BN.