BN triumphs in Hulu Selangor

HULU SELANGOR (April 25, 2010): The Barisan Nasional scored a morale-boosting victory in the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election this evening, when 44-year old P. Kamalanathan beat PKR's Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, 58, the former de-facto Law Minister in the BN administration.

MIC information chief Kamalanathan, who is a public relations practitioner, collected 24,997 votes compared to 23,272 votes for lawyer Zaid, for a majority of 1,725 votes, which is much bigger than that PKR's majority in the 2008 general election. There were 731 spoilt votes.

Voter turnout was at a respectable 75.87% of the total electorate of 64,500, comprising 63,701 ordinary and 799 postal voters.

The count was nail-biting, to say the least. Initially, Zaid led until the 16,000-vote mark and after that it was Kamalanathan's turn to smile.

PR officials, in conceding defeat, said they failed to swing the Malay votes, about 55% of which went to the BN.

They said they got about 70% of the Chinese votes, but 60 to 70% of the Indian votes went to the BN.

At press time, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had joined MIC leaders when the final tally came. There was jubilation and cheering for Kamalanathan.

The seat, which fell vacant on March 25 when the previous MP, PKR's Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin passed away on March 25 from brain cancer, initially saw a four-corner fight when Shah Alam Umno Youth committee member Johan Md Diah, 31 and suspended Hulu Selangor MIC deputy chairman S. Chandran, 56 announced their decision to contest as independents.

BN candidate P. Kamalanathan and his wife
S. Shobana raise hands after was declared the
winner of the Hulu Selangor Parliamentary
by-election. Sunpix by: Kamariduan

However, both withdrew from the fight on April 19, creating a straight fight between Zaid and Kamalanathan.

The campaign was marked with personal attacks against Zaid over his past, as his admissions of consuming alcohol and owning a racehorse were played up by BN campaigners during the nine-day fight for the seat which began on April 17.

The by-election was also marked by a spike in departures and defections from PKR's Selangor divisions, the most notable being that of the PKR Hulu Selangor treasurer, Datuk Dr Halili Rahmat, who left PKR on April 19 to join Umno.

Halili was initially predicted to be PKR's candidate for the by-election.

The win for BN is a reversal of fortunes from the last battle for the Malacca-sized constituency two years ago where Zainal narrowly defeated a BN strongman, MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel, with a 198-vote majority.

Palanivel had held the seat for the last four terms, but BN declined the MIC first-choice candidate.

The by-election loss yesterday to BN represents Pakatan Rakyat's first defeat in a state that it controls, and is such one that will be hard to swallow.

There have been nine other by-elections, two of them parliamentaries and the rest state seats. And PR had won seven of them, and BN two -- Batang Ai (Sarawak), Bagan Pinang (Negeri Sembilan).

With its win here, MIC now has three MPs in Parliament -- P Kamalanathan is to join Dr S Subramaniam (Segamat) and SK Devamany (Cameron Highlands).

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