Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Counting begins, Anwar leads (Malaysiakini)


Malaysiakini goes live today with the by-election coverage, giving updates on the voting and other happenings in this constituency. Please click 'Refresh' or 'Reload' in your browser for the latest reports from Permatang Pauh.

6.55pm: Counting in all 25 polling stations is now underway. From inside sources, Anwar is leading in all voting streams. Votes are being counted simultaneously in all the polling stations with the results to be sent to the main counting centre for the final tally.

According to EC secretary Kamaruzaman, 38,144 voters went to the ballot box today with turnout being 65.25 percent. This is much lower than the 82 percent turnout at the March 8 general elections

6.30pm: Thousands of supporters, almost all from PKR, have gathered at the main counting centre. A police helicopter was hovering above the centre. Numerous police roadblocks were also mounted along the roads leading to the centre - this despite the police blocking the main access to this place.
About 30 police and FRU trucks were also seen in the vicinity, along with hundreds of police personnel
6.05pm: According to EC secretary Kamaruzaman, voter turnout was at 63.7 percent at 4pm. Final voter turnout yet to be released but expected to be lower than the 82 percent at the March 8 general elections.

5.53pm: The police have blocked the main road to the Tuanku Bainun counting centre where the announcement will be made later tonight. Even journalists with EC tags are not allowed to pass through. The move is seen as an attempt to deter people from gathering at the centre.
5.26pm: BN candidate Arif Shah is still confident of taking the seat.
5.11pm: PKR top leaders are confident that Anwar would win the seat as their exit polls show that he is leading by 10,000 votes.

5.10pm: EC officials will start counting votes polled at the respective polling centres by 6.30pm. The final count from all 25 polling centres will then be brought to the Institut Perguruan Tuanku Bainun for the official result to be announced.

5pm: Polling ends for the Permatang Pauh by-election.

4.35pm: Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is understood to have left Penang to Kuala Lumpur, an early indication that the premier has accepted defeat and has no reason to stay back.

4.25pm: Voter turnout stands at 53.5 percent, according to EC secretary Kamaruzaman at 3pm. He also denied rumours that the EC had extended the voting hours to 6pm. Polls will close at 5pm.

2.35pm: PKR vice-president Azmin Ali wants all party supporters to use motorcycles to go to the polling centres due to the massive traffic jams in all roads leading to these centres.

"From the indications we are getting, we are very confident of Anwar's lead," he said.

But he said that traffic gridlock on the narrow roads of the largely rural electorate had disrupted exit polling aimed at determining how voters cast their ballots.

"It is so bad that it's very hard for us to determine accurate exit polls due to the large number of people filling the polling centres and the long jams outside," he told AFP.

2.30pm: A worried-sounding BN candidate Arif Shah urged voters to come out to vote.

2.20pm: Malaysians for Free and Fair Election (Mafrel) spokesperson Ong BK said the election watchdog has recorded three cases of voters' names missing from the electoral roll this morning.

He said these complainants have all voted in the previous elections but could not find their names on the roll today. In one case, the complainant found his name missing despite his wife being allowed to vote.

"We don't know whether this is going to be a pattern as we have to continue to monitor the process until polling is closed" he told Malaysiakini.

1.27pm: The rain has stopped in certain areas, the traffic situation has improved in some parts and voters seem to be taking their time off for lunch first.

1.15pm: All roads leading to voting centres are going nowhere! Traffic has come to a standstill in most parts of Permatang Pauh.Najib attributed the massive traffic jams at the centres to narrow roads and on voters coming out early to vote.

1pm: Election Commission secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor said voter turnout as at noon was 44.8 percent.

However EC deputy chief Wan Ahmad Wan Omar told Malaysiakini that he estimated the turnout to be at about 53 percent as at 1pm.

12.55pm: Eyewitnesses claim of a tense situation at the SMK Penanti polling centre between supporters of BN and PKR over the former's pondok panas which is located very close to the polling centre.

The situation is still under control but the respective supporters are continuing to trade barbs.

The police are keeping a close watch.

12.30pm: Najib says he is happy with the polling so far.

"No untoward incidents so far and everything is under control," he told reporters in Seberang Jaya.

He also visited a BN pondok panas at the polling centre in Seberang Jaya, talking to party workers and volunteers.

12.10pm: As predicted it's raining in Permatang Pauh now!

11.20am: An Election Commission official says that they are not allowed to reveal details of voter turnout.

"Only EC secretary Kamaruzaman Mohd Noor can give those details," she said when contacted.Kamaruzaman is presently on his rounds visiting the polling centres.

11.05am: PKR polling agent at SK Seberang Jaya 2 Rodziah Ismail confirmed that there were no discrepancies in the electoral roll used in the polling station. She said that only the pages were different in the roll used today as compared to the previous one.

11am: The crowd at SK Sri Penanti has dispersed. However, a small group of around 300 still remain a small distance away. Police are keeping a watchful eye on them. No untoward incident has been reported.

10.52am: Third candidate Hanafi Hamat told Malaysiakini that he was on the way to visit a polling station in Kubang Semang.

"I think I have chance to win," he said.

"But even if I lose, it's okay as our message has gone down to the voters. They are aware of our message," he added.

10.42am: Penang police chief Ayub Yaakob is at the scene at SK Sri Penanti. The crowd is given five minutes to disperse. The FRU are slowly moving the crowd out of the place. PKR information chief Tian Chua is also at the scene, asking the police to give more time for their supporters to be there.

10.30am: A PKR supporter is arrested for allegedly throwing an object to the BN side at SK Sri Penanti polling centre. There are about 1,000 supporters from both BN and Pakatan still gathered at this centre. They are kept afar on either side of a road opposite the centre.

Eyewitnesses say that there are about 600 Pakatan supporters as opposed to 400 from BN.

They are very boisterous. At least nine truck-loads of Federal Reserve Unit personnel are on standby at the place.

10.10am: "I hope to take oath in Parliament tomorrow," said a highly-confident Anwar.

"We are entering Parliament with a clear agenda and they (BN) should wake up with the stark realities of the day.

"He said that he was receiving a strong support from the people of Permatang Pauh. He said this in a short five-minute speech after casting his vote.

10.05am: PKR's election bureau deputy director Fuziah Salleh told Malaysiakini that they were checking with the Election Commission on the discrepancy in the voters' list at SK Seberang Jaya 2 polling district.

10am: Anwar and Wan Azizah left after casting their votes. Anwar said that he was confident of winning today.

"It's not Anwar versus the (other) candidates. It's Anwar versus the entire government machinery," he said.He added that the most important thing was winning.

"As you can see, the groundswell is great. God willing, I'm confident of winning," he added.He however expressed his fears of vote-counting manipulations.

9.43am: Anwar, accompanied by his wife Dr Wan Azizah, enters the polling centre. He is wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt and a songkok. Wan Azizah will also be casting her vote at SK Sri Penanti.

9.38am: Anwar arrives at SK Seri Penanti.

9.35am: At SK Sri Penanti, almost all voters are using the PKR line to check their status before voting. Exit poll shows nine out of 10 favoured Anwar.

9.31am: Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Gerakan acting president Koh Tsu Koon are at SK Seberang Jaya 2 polling centre where they bumped into Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and DAP leader Lim Kit Siang. The political leaders shook hands and exchanged greetings.However their respective supporters were less cordial, with the Pakatan group shouting ‘Altantuya! Liar! Cheater!' at Najib. BN supporters responded by shouting 'Hidup Barisan!'

9.10am: A PKR alert states that the voters' list used in the SK Seberang Jaya 2 polling district is different from that given earlier. It is however learnt that only the page numbers are different, but with the same list of voters.

9.05am: The crowd at SK Sri Penanti has now swelled to about 1,000, with almost two-thirds of them being from Pakatan. They are waiting for Anwar to arrive to vote.8.45am: BN and Pakatan Rakyat supporters have started gathering at SK Sri Penanti where Anwar will be casting his ballot. About 300 Pakatan supporters have been teasing and mocking their rivals from the BN camp.

The 50-odd BN men are also not slow to retort, singing away ‘liwat' songs. Pakatan supporters respond by chanting ‘Altantuya'.

About 30 voters are also in line to vote here.8.30am: There are about 70 supporters from both sides at SK Seberang Jaya 2. Anwar supporters are seen wearing Anwar masks, goading the BN supporters. Bantering between the two sets of supporters are jovial and in good mood.

8.08am: BN's Arif Shah is among the earliest to vote. His polling centre at SK Seberang Jaya 2 is close by to his house. He told reporters that he was confident of winning today.

"I voted at 8.08am as eight is a good number for me," he told reporters with a beaming smile.

His wife, Latifah Asmawi, and son, Izwan Shah, also cast their votes with him.8am: Polling starts. Almost all polling centres have voters milling around to vote early.7.30am: It's polling day in Permatang Pauh, with a total of 58,459 voters who can vote to determine their chosen elected parliamentarian.

The contest to be the elected MP is among PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim, Barisan Nasional's Arif Shah Omar Shah and little known Hanafi Hamat from Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim).

This has been Anwar's fort since 1982 and in his absence in the past 10 years, the seat has been held for him by his wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The by-election is necessitated by Wan Azizah's decision to vacate the seat in July 31, to allow her husband a way back into the Parliament.

Permatang Pauh has three state seats under it - the BN-held Seberang Jaya, PKR's Penanti and PAS' Permatang Pasir. Arif is also the state representative in Seberang Jaya.

There are 25 polling centres, with 110 polling stream - all opened for voting since 8am. They will remain open until 5pm.

The weather in Permatang Pauh is clear and sunny. However, rain is expected later in the day. Voters are being reminded to be ready with their umbrellas and raincoats.

It has been constantly raining in the evenings in this constituency for the past week.

Heavy traffic is also anticipated throughout the day, especially with the narrow, kampung roads that dot most part of the constituency.

The police have also closed some roads in the constituency for better traffic management.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reminded voters at his ceramah last night to come out early to vote.PKR's Anwar Ibrahim is expected to cast his vote at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sri Penanti at about 9am while his rival Arif Shah Omar Shah from BN will be voting at SK Seberang Jaya 2.

The third candidate, Hanafi, is not a voter from here.Some 400 voters had been waiting at SK Seri Menanti, one of the key polling stations, since early morning to cast their ballots.

Both PKR and BN have also identified several measures to lure voters to come out to vote today. Both sides have placed volunteers to ferry voters to the polling centres. Umbrellas are also on stand-by for the voters in case of a sudden downpour.

Arif Shah's Umno has deployed some 5,000 volunteers to help out in the by-election. Both Umno and PKR are also preparing food for the voters.

The rival parties have also set up their own websites for their supporters to monitor the situation today.

BN's website can be accessed here while PKR's site is located here.

news courtesy of Malaysiakini