by Himanshu Bhatt,Sangeetha Amarthalingam and Tarani Palani
May 25, 2014
GEORGE TOWN (May 25): The DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh made his political debut in style by winning the Bukit Gelugor by-election today by a thundering 37,659-vote majority, polling 81.7% more votes than his closest opponent.
Ramkarpal received 37,659 votes, while Parti Cinta Malaysia’s Datuk Huan Cheng Guan obtained 3,583 votes. Independents Mohamed Nabi Bux Mohd Sathar got 799 while Abu Backer Sidek Mohammd Zan obtained 225 votes. There were 542 spoilt votes.
This means all three of Ramkarpal’s opponents lost their deposits. The results were announced at 9.10pm by Returning Officer Capt (R) Anwar Yahaya at the Dewan Sri Pinang.
However, as the DAP had feared, voter apathy due to the prevailing opinion that Ramkarpal would sweep the seat led to a rather low turnout of 56.04 per cent.
This came about as the MCA, which traditionally represents Barisan Nasional (BN) in contesting for this seat, stayed away this time.
Only 46,099 of the 82,000-odd registered voters in the parliamentary constituency cast their ballots.
Earlier, when the unofficial results were announced by DAP by-election communications director Ng Wei Aik at the party’s operation centre, ripples of excitement spread through the neighbourhood on Jalan Masjid Negeri.
The by-election had been called following the death of veteran DAP leader Karpal Singh in a tragic road crash where the Toyota Alphard he was being driven in slammed into a five-tonne lorry along the North-South Expressway near Gua Tempuring at 1.10am on April 17.
His assistant Michael Cornelius died in the same accident.
Incidentally, Ramkarpal who was in the same vehicle, survived the accident and has now assumed the mantle of his father.
“Most important thing as far as I am concern in this election is my father, the late Karpal Singh. He is certainly a very important part…I dedicate it entirely to him.
“Throughout events that lead to it, he was always with me at this point in time certainly apart of this,” he said.
He also thanked the voters who came out to vote for him, his family and the party for their support.
“The DAP has been very supportive in the campaign. Lim Kit Siang has given me fatherly advise and all the people at the service center campaigning everyday with little sleep. So we look forward to good night sleep tonight,” he said smiling.
Boost for Dyana Sofya in Teluk Intan
The immediate impact of the DAP victory will be to provide significant encouragement for the party’s 27-year old candidate in the upcoming Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election, Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud.
That by-election is scheduled for next Saturday (May 31) following the passing of the MP there, Seah Leong Peng of the DAP.
Dyana Sofya faces BN’s Datuk Mah Siew Keong, who is Gerakan president, in a straight fight.
While the turnout today may seem poor, it is better than the last time BN did not contest in an election.
During the Penanti state by-election on May 31, 2009 – contested by PKR’s (Datuk) Mansor Othman and three independents – the total turnout for the entire polling was only 7,100 voters or 46.1% of the voting population there.
Mansor, won that election, garnering 85% of the votes cast, and went on to be appointed Deputy Chief Minister (I).
Campaign period lit with independents’ antics
Though relatively low-key due to the absence of the BN, the campaign period was lit by the antics of the independents.
In particular, lawyer Abu Backer Sidek took the media spotlight when he dramatically dropped on the road in front of the official car of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, while calling out to see Lim outside the Penang State Assembly.
He also announced yesterday at the very last minute that he wanted to pull out from by-election, although this is not possible as his name had already been printed on the ballot papers.
Mohamed Nabi Bux meanwhile went around with his small bandwagon of supporters touting the hudud line.
All the losing candidates showed a late burst of visibility with their banners and posters appearing prominently in public during the last few days of campaigning.
However, DAP was the only party that conducted regular ceramah every day of the campaign period, with Ramkarpal making numerous rounds in public places with the support of the Pakatan Rakyat machinery.
Ramkarpal’s victory was also very much due to the widespread reverence and sentiments for his late father.
In the last general election on May 5 last year, Karpal had swept the seat for the DAP with a massive 41,778-vote majority, over MCA’s Teh Beng Yeam, polling 55,839 votes from the 69,900 that were cast.
Prior to that, Karpal had won the seat by 21,015 votes in 2008 and 1,261 votes in 2004.
Some 74% of the 62,000-odd voters here are Chinese, 14.5% are Malays, 11% are Indians and 0.5% are categorised as others.