EC takes ‘soft approach’ with party supporters

Election Commission chairman Azhar Harun says ‘hello’ to a child brought by a voter at the polling centre at SMK Dato Mohd Yunos Sulaiman in Pekan Nanas today.

PEKAN NANAS: The Election Commission (EC) is taking a “soft approach” with supporters of candidates taking part in today’s Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election.

EC chairman Azhar Harun said his officers are taking the approach by “not chasing them away”.

“If it is peaceful outside the 50m (separating party supporters and voters), we took the soft approach by not chasing them.

“What if something that is good natured turns chaotic if we attempt to chase them away?” he told reporters during a visit to the polling centre at SMK Dato Mohd Yunos Sulaiman here.

However, he reminded the candidates and their parties to stop campaigning as the 14-day campaign period had ended at midnight.

“It is not just within 50m of the voting centres,” he said, adding that campaigning anywhere was not permitted on polling day.

Azhar was responding to claims by Gerakan candidate Wendy Subramaniam that Barisan Nasional supporters were trying to campaign outside the SMK Dato Mohd Yunos Sulaiman polling centre.

Wendy said the supporters were wearing party shirts and bought flags outside the school.

“They do not want to obey the election rules,” she said, adding that she was disappointed by their behaviour.

Azhar also urged voters to cast their ballots early as rain was forecast for the afternoon.

At 10am, the EC reported a voter turnout of 25%.

Six candidates are involved in the by-election, triggered by the death of PH’s Dr Md Farid Md Rafik on Sept 21 from heart complications.

In addition to Wendy, the others are Karmaine Sardini (PH), Wee Jeck Seng (BN), Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (Berjasa) and independent candidates Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar and Ang Chuan Lock.

In the last general election, Farid won the seat after defeating Wee by a 524-vote margin. The other contestant was Nordin Othman from PAS.

Tanjung Piai is a mixed seat with 53,528 registered voters, comprising 57% Malays, 41.66% Chinese and 1% Indians.

This is the ninth by-election held after PH took over the federal government.