AGGRESSION ruled the day at the Permatang Pauh by-election but a prank pulled by some boys had passers-by in stitches, if not amused.
One of the boys, ostensibly family members of PKR supporters, was looking through a hollow bamboo pipe while another behind him held aloft two coconuts, mimicking the ritual performed by Bomoh Ibrahim Mat Zin and his devotees at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after MH370 went missing.
The bomoh, who calls himself Raja Bomoh Sedunia Nujum VIP with the title of Datuk Mahaguru, grabbed global attention with his ritual that involved the use of bamboo binoculars, two coconuts, a “magical” walking stick and carpet to help locate the missing aircraft.
It is believed the boys enacted the skit after seeing some adults pulling the stunt.
At several polling centres, supporters from both sides of the political divide threw stones and plastic water bottles at each other.
The atmosphere heated up by noon and at the SK Tanah Liat polling station, freelance videographer from KLXpress Mahathir Mohammad sustained a cut on his head while filming an argument at the scene.
Mahathir received eight stitches on his head at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital.
It was believed that a hard object landed on his head while he was recording a video of the commotion at SK Tanah Liat.
It is also tense at the SMK Pauh Jaya polling centre in Jalan Pauh Jaya 1 with supporters from PKR and Barisan Nasional taunting each other by hurling plastic bottles.
Earlier in the morning, PKR and Barisan supporters were taunting each other at SK Seri Penanti before PKR candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail arrived to cast her vote. Things quickly cooled down when police FRU arrived.
Tempers flared at the SMK Guar Perahu polling centre where hundreds of supporters from both sides had gathered, and by 9.30am the verbal assaults turned into a scuffle.
Supporters took over the road, holding up traffic, and the disorder that broke out prompted police, Election Commission (EC) officials and Barisan leaders, among them Balik Pulau MP Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya and Penang Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow, to pacify and calm the massive crowd.
Comparing Permatang Pauh with the recently concluded Rompin by-election, EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said party supporters were “very aggressive” and “very emotional”.
He said that when EC officials visited one of the polling centres, as was the tradition, they were queried on what they were doing there and why there were so many of them.
“We observed that they seemed to be afraid that the EC would do something which we are not supposed to, when in actual fact we were visiting to see if the trainings or programmes that we had conducted, the standard operation procedures which had been agreed upon, and the layout prepared had been carried out or followed,” he said.
He said the EC had initially planned to visit four polling centres, but was advised against it by the police due to the high turnout of party supporters from both sides. In the end, they only went to one.
Teng was shocked and taken aback by the rowdy behaviour and hostility.
“This is not the kind of culture that we are promoting, but PKR has been adopting this culture since the first day of campaign until today (polling day).
“This is the worst by-election I have ever seen. It is unbecoming for any political party to adopt such violent behaviour. I am appealing, especially to PKR, to stop this nonsense,” he said.
On Wednesday night, three police cars were damaged when some 300 PKR supporters tried to stop policemen from entering the SMK Permatang Rawa and SK Indera Muda polling centres in Permatang Pauh.
Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon said the presence of policemen late at night had sparked suspicion as none of the candidates were informed of their arrival.
“Every candidate and party has to be informed about this procedure,” said Mohd Rashid.
Penang police chief Senior Deputy Comm Datuk Wira Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the inspection was to ensure that everything was in order before polling day.
“When a premises is to be used as a polling centre, our bomb unit and inspection team will clear the area and put up stickers. The PKR supporters had disrupted our duties.
“Investigation papers have been opened under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a civil servant from discharging his duties, under Section 147 for rioting and under Section 427 for committing mischief,” he added.
SDCP Abdul Rahim said that 112 police reports had been lodged for electoral misconducts and 12 investigations papers had since been opened.