BUKIT MERTAJAM: PKR has comfortably retained the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat in a by-election, but with a smaller majority.
Party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 62, polled 30,316 votes to beat Barisan Nasional’s Suhaimi Sabudin by 8,841, fewer than the 11,721-majority garnered by her husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the 2013 general election.
Suhaimi, 43, who is Permatang Pauh Umno division secretary, garnered 21,475 votes in the four-cornered fight.
Parti Rakyat Malaysia’s Azman Shah Othman, 50, and independent Salleh Isahak, 53, both lost their RM10,000 deposit after only polling 101 and 367 votes respectively, which were fewer than one-eighth of the votes cast or the minimum required to keep their money. There were 843 spoilt votes.
The results of the by-election was announced at 10.15pm by returning officer Jusni Ismail at the National Youth Skills Institute tallying centre here yesterday.
Dr Wan Azizah, who arrived at the centre at 8.55pm accompanied by PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, said her victory showed that the rakyat, especially the voters of Permatang Pauh, wanted to strengthen Pakatan Rakyat.
“It also shows that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is very much on their minds,” she said. “He is still relevant to the society.
“The result is also a referendum to the Federal Government that they oppose the Goods and Services Tax,” she added.
A DAP division member later presented her with a bouquet of flowers in conjunction with this Sunday’s Mother’s Day.
Meanwhile, Suhaimi expressed sadness but said it was “an eye-opener”.
“I’ll take this by-election as an experience to further expand my political career.
“I thank all those who have supported me and promise that Barisan will continue to serve the people,” said Suhaimi, who was accompanied by his wife Firyal Harlina Napiah, 42.
Barisan by-election director Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said: “We accept the voters’ choice with an open heart, but it was unfortunate that there was commotion in some areas.
“Some parties acted as though there are no laws in the country.”
Also present were Penang Umno chief Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman, Penang Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow and other Barisan leaders.
The turnout in the May 2013 general election was 88.2% from a total electorate of 71,808 compared to almost 74% at yesterday’s by-election from an electorate of 71,890. Anwar polled 37,090 votes against 25,368 garnered by Barisan’s Mazlan Ismail.
Anwar, who is PKR adviser, and his wife have held the seat since 1982 when he first won it on a Barisan ticket.
After Anwar’s arrest in September 1998, Dr Wan Azizah contested and won the seat in the 1999 general election under the then Parti Keadilan Nasional and retained it in the 2004 and 2008 general elections.
She vacated the seat on July 31, 2008, for a by-election which was won by Anwar with a majority of 15,671 votes.
The lowest majority garnered by Dr Wan Azizah was in the 2004 general election when she won by only 590 votes.
Yesterday’s by-election was held following Anwar’s conviction for sodomising his former aide and after an unsuccessful appeal for a royal pardon.