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Kajang by-election to be held on March 23
Publication Date : 06-02-2014
March 23 is the date for Malaysia's latest political showdown.
The Election Commission said that is when the Kajang by-election will be held, in what is shaping up to be a test of support for opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR's) controversial move to parachute its chief Anwar Ibrahim into Selangor politics.
Nomination day is March 11, with early voting on March 19.
The campaign period is 12 days, Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Yusof told a press conference.
The seat fell vacant last week when a PKR state assemblyman suddenly resigned, in an apparent move to make way for Anwar.
The opposition chief yesterday held several functions in Malay- majority areas in Kajang, while Barisan Nasional (BN) - the coalition that rules Malaysia but is the opposition in Selangor - still has not named its candidate.
During a tea session in a residential area, Anwar said Selangor Menteri Besar (state chief) Khalid Ibrahim - whom he is widely expected to replace once he wins the by-election - has offered to become the election director for the party's campaign.
Khalid is embroiled in an escalating feud with the state party chief Azmin Ali, an Anwar loyalist.
Anwar's former tennis buddy, Senator K.S. Nallakaruppan of the Malaysian Indian United Party - an obscure party within BN - has offered himself as a candidate, on the basis that he knows - he says - Anwar's darkest secrets.
The Kajang state seat is traditionally contested by the Malaysian Chinese Association, which is part of BN.
The New Generation Party - set up last September by former PKR member S. Gobikrishnan - has said it would field a candidate.
The seat has 39,278 registered voters; about 48 per cent of them are Malays, 41 per cent Chinese, 10 per cent Indians and 1 per cent others. Mixed state seats generally favour the opposition.
PKR and two other federal opposition parties in the Pakatan Rakyat alliance won Selangor in last May's general election with a two-thirds majority, making the Kajang seat an uphill battle for BN to win.
Anwar and his party have gone to great lengths to convince voters that his presence in the state is needed to defend Selangor from the BN.
But what has become known as "The Kajang Move" has befuddled supporters and foes alike.
PKR should "stop making excuses" about calling the by-election, former New Straits Times editor-in-chief Kadir Jasin wrote on his popular blog - The Scribe - on Tuesday.
"If they want Anwar as the new menteri besar of Selangor, just say so. If they want to solve the party's internal problem via a by-election, so be it," he wrote.
"There's no need for them to beat around the senduduk bush."
The straits rhododendron, or senduduk in Malay, is a bush commonly found in Malaysia.
Selangor, which the PR wrested control of from the BN in 2008, is the country's wealthiest state. In recent years, the rivalry between Khalid and Azmin has caused cracks in the state leadership.