PONTIAN: In early unofficial results at the Tanjung Piai by-election, Wee Jeck Seng of Barisan Nasional has pulled strongly ahead of Karmaine Sardini of Pakatan Harapan, with a commanding majority of 13,383 votes.
Barisan Nasional had polled 22,254 votes to Pakatan Harapan’s 8,871 votes with over half the ballots counted.
Six candidates are taking part in the by-election: Wee Jeck Seng (BN-MCA), Karmaine Sardini (PH-PPBM), Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (Berjasa), Wendy Subramaniam (Gerakan) and independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar.
Wendy obtained 1,484 votes and Badhrulhisham 759 votes, while Ang received 310 votes and Faridah 26 votes at 8pm.
The by-election was called after the death of Md Farid Md Rafik from a heart attack in September.
Farid had won the seat in the 2018 general election with a slim 524-vote majority, unseating Wee who had held the seat since 2008.
Tanjung Piai is a mixed seat with 53,528 registered voters, comprising 57% Malays, 41.66% Chinese and 1% Indians.
Last night, an MCA-linked think tank had predicted an overwhelming victory for BN, with a forecast of a majority of over 7,000 votes.
The Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) based its prediction on interviews conducted over the past two weeks.
It said over half of Malay and Chinese voters surveyed indicated they will vote against Pakatan Harapan. “But it is not so much that Tanjung Piai voters now love BN more. It is about voters falling out of love with PH,” said INSAP deputy chairman Dr Pamela Yong.
Chinese voters made it clear that they would vote for Wee, rather than BN itself, because of his work in his previous two terms as MP.
She said the Malay community would back the BN following an alliance between PAS and Umno earlier this year.