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It will not only be the headliners like Lim Kit Siang or Zulkifli Noordin in the spotlight for the next 15 days as we get into the official campaign period for Election 2013. A quick glance at the candidates for several seats around the country is enough to give even the most casual political observer plenty to think and get excited about. In Putrajaya, we have Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor a party veteran and current party secretary-general  facing off with PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa.

Husam’s decision to stand in Putrajaya is seen as a bold move, and signals the first direct incursion into the heart of the current administration. The Kelantan man is hoping to appeal to the substantial number of Kelantan-born in the civil service who stay in Putrajaya. It will be interesting to see if his brand of politics appeals to the people there. In Shah Alam, we have a straight fight between former PKR man Datuk Zulkifli Noordin running under the Friends of BN ticket with long-time rival and incumbent Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad of PAS. The controversial Zulkifli Noordin who made headlines recently with apparent slurs against Hindus and Indians and know for his ultra Islamist stance may just be able to wrest the seat from Khalid.

This will be a battle for the souls; ironically, Zul Noordin will be the one taking on the role of a Muslim hardliner while Khalid, who is from an Islamist party, is seen to be a centrist who openly engages with Malaysians of other faiths. In Election 2008, Khalid even spoke to Catholics in their church in Shah Alam. He is popular with non-Muslims in his constituency, but this has been turned into a negative in recent days as the Muslims fear he is too inclusive. Over at Pandan, the popular incumbent MP, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, is not running against PKR’s Rafizi Ramli but the fight will still be interesting for several reasons.

A day before nomination, BN’s candidate, lawyer Gary Lim, was hit by professional misconduct and fraud allegations. He is likely to face a disciplinary hearing of the Malaysian Bar to answer to these allegations. Rafizi, who is PKR’s strategy director, has made a name for himself with a series of exposés like the high-profile National Feedlot Centre (NFC) scandal is definitely the front runner in this race though. The third candidate in the race for Pandan is Ong’s former political secretary, Allan Tan, and it is thought he may take away some votes for Rafizi and Lim as some people see him as Ong’s proxy. By far, the most-publicised race in the Klang Valley will be that in Lembah Pantai. Incumbent MP Nurul Izzah Anwar is Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter and many in Barisan Nasional see her as the successor to the PKR throne.

As such, no expense has been spared to bring her down. A look at the number of Barisan Nasional flags that have aggressively sprouted up all over the constituency gives credence to this claim. BN’s Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin, who is also interim Federal Territory minister, seems equal to the task. This will be an interesting battle to watch as the constituency is divided into the affluent and middle-class Bangsar and the more working-class Pantai Dalam. Will Nurul Izzah be able to hold on to the seat she so narrowly won with 2,895 votes in 2008? All eyes will be on her and Raja Nong Chik the next 15 days. Across the country in Raub is blogger extraordinaire Sakmongkol AK47, whose real name is Datuk Mohamed Ariff Sabri Aziz, from the DAP versus MCA’s Datuk Hoy Khai Mun. Known for his pithy and highly-critical blog posts against Barisan Nasional, the former Umno man and once political aide to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, may just win over the Chinese voters who make up 44 per cent of the constituency’s electorate and help burnish DAP’s multi-racial credentials. But the biggest fight in GE13 is probably the one in Gelang Patah, Johor. It will see DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang go against caretaker Johor mentri besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman.

Battle of the giants? It is no exaggeration to think of the fight as such. After all, BN’s Ghani is a four-term mentri besar who brought in high-profile developments like Iskandar to the state. Kit Siang, of course, is so synonymous with DAP that people think of him as the party head even though it is his son, Lim Guan Eng, who is the secretary-general of the party. Kit Siang is the heart of the party and he leads this foray into Johor which is often described as Umno’s fort. Will GE13, already touted as the mother of all elections, live up to its billing? From the looks of these seats and who is fighting who, the answer is already a resounding yes.

Ceramah at Kg Kerinchi

Anwar Ibrahim

Nurul Izzah


PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar against Senator Raja Datuk Nong Chik Zainal. The first-term PR MP is facing another tough battle after a surprise and close win in Election 2008 against Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil. This time she faces Raja Nong Chik (picture) who is the caretaker Federal Territories and Urban Well-being Minister. He has poured his energy into many state-sanctioned projects in the sprawling constituency that counts upscale Bukit Pantai and Bangsar suburbs to the squatter settlements of Kampung Pantai Dalam and Bukit Kerinchi as its neighbourhoods. Lembah Pantai has 72,553 voters, comprising 55 per cent Malays, 23 per cent Chinese and 20 per cent Indians.

KUBANG SEMANG, April 5 ― PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will defend his seat in Permatang Pauh and not go to Tambun, Perak. The PKR de-facto leader announced his decision at a ceramah at Taman Pauh here amidst cheering from the crowd. “While my intention was to help the campaign in Perak and if I look at it rationally and strategically, it would have to be Tambun but because of the heart, soul, relationship and spirit of Permatang Pauh in their support for me, I have to defend my seat,” he said. Anwar had earlier said he will decide between contesting in Tambun and his home ground.

He had also announced in an earlier event here that if he doesn’t contest in Tambun, Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail will contest in that seat. Siti Aishah is the PKR wanita youth chief. The incumbent Tambun MP is Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, who is also Finance Minister II. “I have discussed this with other PKR leaders and we felt that by going to Tambun, it would cause a jump in support for us and we could even win a few seats there,” he said. However, Anwar said he had to consider the Permatang Pauh factor. “My relationship with Permatang Pauh is not about elections or about them supporting me because I’m in government or in the Opposition but because they are family,” he said.

He said he had never forgotten the support he and his wife, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, had always received from the people of Permatang Pauh, even when he was in jail. “I will continue to defend this seat but I apologise as I will be going nationwide to campaign so I will only be here once in a while,” he said to a crowd of about 2,000 people at a football field in the middle of a residential area. He called on his Permatang Pauh supporters to help him defend his “fort” while he was away helping the campaign in other states. Anwar received a resounding yes, cheers and applause.

He admitted that Wan Azizah had advised him against going to Tambun. “When I was at the Sama Gagah Mosque just now, someone came up to ask me where I plan to go in Perak so I told him Tambun,” he shared during the ceramah. “Then he came back to me and asked me, how could the next Prime Minister be from Tambun.” Wan Azizah had held the Permatang Pauh seat for two terms, and gave up the seat to Anwar in 2008. Anwar won the seat in the by-election in August 2008, after Wan Azizah resigned, defeating Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah by a majority of 16,210 votes.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The Dewan Rakyat has been dissolved, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced during a live television broadcast today, paving the way for the 13th general election. The prime minister said he met with the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong this morning and received His Majesty’s consent to dissolve Parliament. It is understood that 11 state assemblies will also be dissolved today and tomorrow to facilitate the general election. The Negri Sembilan state assembly was dissolved automatically on March 27 while Sarawak had its state election in April 2012.

The last general election was on March 8, 2008 but Najib, who took office exactly four years ago today, has taken his time to dissolve Parliament. “If I was the prime minister, I would have called for elections last year. All this waiting... one month, two months, three months... it just never stops,” Najib’s mentor and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told a news conference on March 27. Najib is the longest-serving prime minister without a personal mandate, eclipsing his father Tun Abdul Razak Hussein who served as Malaysia’s second PM from September 22, 1970 to Election Day on August 24, 1974.

The EC will meet in the next few days to set the dates for nominations and polling that must he held within 60 days of the commission receiving the notices of dissolution from the state legislative assemblies that have yet to be dissolved. Politicians from the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) are fighting for 222 parliamentary seats and 505 state seats in Election 2013, which The Malaysian Insider understands will be held within the month. A source had disclosed that there will be a greater number of new faces although Najib, who is also BN chairman, is expected to retain some veterans for continuity, especially those who scored well in the government annual report card he had announced on March 19.

The 59-year-old whose personal approval rating has remained above 65 per cent, has been on a whirlwind circuit around the country in the past few months to drum up support for his BN coalition in the run-up to election. He has trumpeted his government’s transformative achievements over the past three years and doled out money to diverse demographic groups in various cash schemes to aid some five million families feeling the global economic pinch. The move has been criticised as an attempt to sway voters for the upcoming general election, including the controversial remark by Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat who likened it to feeding livestock to garner support.

Analysts have pointed out that the initiatives under the Economic Transformation Programme and Government Transformation Programme contributed to Malaysia’s economic growth rate of 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year versus the same period in 2011. Some 13.3 million voters, including 3,000-odd abroad, have registered to vote in what is set to be the country’s most-anticipated and closely-fought general elections. BN officials privately predict that the ruling coalition could regain its two-thirds supermajority by winning as many as 160 seats although the PR pact led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is also confident of a victory. Independent surveys show that BN could scrape through with 117 federal seats to PR’s 105.

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