KUALA LUMPUR: Over 100 permits for door-to-door campaigning in Tanjung Piai have been approved by the police since Nov 2, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong.
"As of Nov 13, political parties and independent candidates contesting in Tanjung Piai had applied for 562 public campaign permits.
"Of this, 101 were for walkabout campaigning involving all candidates," he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang) during Minister's Question Time in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday (Nov 14).
He noted that police had approved 42 such permits on the very first day of campaigning for the by-election.
Liew added that all candidates including their representatives were fully aware of the need to get a police permit with regard to public campaigning.
He noted that the issue over the need for police permits for public campaigning was raised on three occasions by Election Commission (EC) and police during briefings with election officers, candidates and their representatives.
The briefings were held on Nov 2,9 and 11, he added.
He said the need for police permits for campaigning was not something new or a new EC ruling as reported.
"I myself was shocked when the mass media reported that the need for the such permits was an EC ruling," he said.
He added that it was a requirement imposed by the police to ensure peaceful and orderly campaigns during the by-election.
He said the statement by EC chairman Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun on Tuesday (Nov 12) was merely a reminder to candidates on the need for police permits for public campaigning during the by-election.
However, Azalina asked if there was bad faith on the part of the EC for issuing the reminder in the midst of the campaign period.
"Even election watchdog Bersih 2.0 is against it," she said, adding that there was never a need for permits for door-to-door campaigning in previous polls.
Liew denied the EC had acted in bad faith in the matter, citing the example where 42 permits for walkabout campaigns were approved on the very first day of campaigning.
"All are on the same equal playing field to secure votes in the by-election," he added.
On Tuesday (Nov 12), Opposition leader Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob described the need or permits for walkabout campaigns as extreme, saying that they might challenge it in court.
On Wednesday (Nov 13), Tan Sri Noh Omar (BN-Tanjong Karang) filed a motion to have the issue debated in Dewan Rakyat.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din has since clarified that the new ruling requiring permits for walkabouts and door-to-door campaigning in Tanjung Piai was to ensure security and prevent clashes between supporters of rival candidates.
The Tanjung Piai by-election will see a six-way contest between Pakatan Harapan's Karmaine Sardini, Barisan Nasional's Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, Gerakan's Wendy Subramaniam, Berjasa's Datuk Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, and independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar.
Polling is set for this Saturday (Nov 16).
The by-election is being held following the death of Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, who was also Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, on Sept 21.
In the GE14, Dr Farid won the seat with a slim 524-vote majority over Wee and PAS candidate Nordin Othman.
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