Malaysia

PKR retains Kajang in low-key by-election

PKR leaders (from left) Azmin Ali, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahiim, Wan Azizah and Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim are united in celebrating Wan Azizah's strong win in the Kajang by-election today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 23,2014.PKR leaders (from left) Azmin Ali, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahiim, Wan Azizah and Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim are united in celebrating Wan Azizah's strong win in the Kajang by-election today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, March 23,2014.PKR has retained the Kajang state seat in a by-election that was overshadowed by the saga of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, but with a lesser majority that is believed to be due to low voter turnout.

PKR's Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail easily won the urban mixed seat against Barisan Nasional's Datin Chew Mei Fun but with a majority of 5,379. This was less than the 6,824 vote majority that PKR received in last year's general election.

Since the by-election was announced close to two months ago, PKR had been expected to win the seat. But the party's campaigners conceded that they would not be able to match the majority it got in the 13th general election due to today's voter turnout of 72% when voting closed at 5pm.

In last May's national polls, PKR's Lee Chin Cheh won the seat by obtaining 19,571 votes as opposed to Barisan's Lee Ban Seng who got 12,747 votes, on the back of 88% voters turnout.

Lee also beat a clutch of Independent candidates who contested in the polls. However, he sprung a surprise last month when he vacated his seat, triggering the by-election.

Official results from 88 voting channels in the constituency showed that PKR garnered 16,741 while Barisan Nasional received 11,362 votes.

In a press conference after her victory, Wan Azizah said that Pakatan managed to increase its share of the popular vote this time around by 2% despite the lower voter turnout.

She said Pakatan had garnered 59.9% of all votes cast in this by election compared with 57% in the general election last May.

The coalition also did well among Malay voters, a community that it had trouble courting during the 13th general election.

Pakatan also made some strong inroads by managing to get more votes than the BN in two voting districts known for its high population of Malay Muslims, that is Sungai Sekamat and Taman Delima.

Similarly, in the Batu 10 Cheras and Sungai Kantan voting districts, it managed to drastically reduce the number of votes that BN garnered by close to 50%.

"I am very happy with the results. It is a very sweet victory for us as we managed to increase the votes from Malays and the youth.

"It is also a judgement on the Appeals Court ruling against Anwar (PKR defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) and how the government has increased the cost of goods," she said.

Pakatan had framed the by-election as a referendum on the Appeals Court judgment on March 7 which had reversed Anwar's earlier acquittal for sodomy.

The verdict had disqualified Anwar from contesting in the by-election and he was replaced by Wan Azizah.

Throughout the campaign period, BN and Pakatan activists had admitted that the rise in living costs as a result of Putrajaya's subsidy cuts would also be an issue that swayed people's votes.

Polling this morning was marred by taunting and heckling by supporters of both BN and Pakatan Rakyat.

Recent events in the country were used to attract votes with the most popular being a reference to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's statement about the price of kangkung falling which earned him ridicule in January.

Pakatan supporters at many polling stations shouted kangkung while at some stations they mimicked the infamous rituals involving coconuts performed by an allegedly pro-government bomoh at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, which had earned the country ridicule.

Police and FRU were on standby in some polling centres to stop the rising tensions, but no untoward incidents were reported. – March 23, 2014.

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