Thursday, April 01, 2010

H1N1 bug may quarantine Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election

The Election Commission may push back the Hulu Selangor by-election due to an outbreak of the influenza A(H1N1) in the constituency, according to sources.
Fifty-nine pupils of Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil Kuala Kubu Baru have been placed under quarantine since Tuesday after 47 of them were found with H1N1 symptoms and 12 with influenza-like illness.

They were confined to their homes after school authorities alerted the district health department of the problem. According to reports, it has been confirmed that two schoolchildren have contracted the disease.

"After news reports today about the disease, the EC is bound to consult health authorities and push the dates back. You can't have thousands of election workers converging at Kuala Kubu Baru when there is a H1N1 outbreak there.

"It is too much of a health risk. They might allow for two or three weeks to pass by before setting the nomination date. (MIC deputy president G Palanivel) has waited for two years for this by-election; another few weeks would not matter," said the sources.

The EC is scheduled to announce the nomination and polling dates tomorrow.

Palanivel is the candidate

Meanwhile, it appears that Palanivel is likely to be named as the Barisan Nasional candidate for the upcoming by-election

Party sources said the meeting between MIC president S Samy Vellu and Prime Minister
 Najib Tun Razak yesterday morning in Parliament went well, with the MIC chief submitting only one name (Palanivel) as the party's candidate.

"He (Samy Vellu) is happy with the meeting. Only Palanivel's name was submitted to Najib (who is also the BN chairman) and the response seems very favourable," the sources told FMT.

It is also learnt that Palanivel had been given the go-ahead to print posters and election paraphernalia.

The seat fell vacant following the death of incumbent PKR MP Zainal Abidin Ahmad, who passed away last Thursday.

Zainal won the seat, which has some 63,000 registered voters, at the 2008 general election with a slim majority of 198 votes, beating Palanivel who was a three-term Hulu Selangor MP prior to the defeat.

The seat has three state constituencies -- Hulu Bernam, Batang Kali and Kuala Kubu Baru with all three seats won by the ruling BN at the 2008 general election. The Hulu Bernam and Batang Kali state seats are held by Umno assemblymen while the Kuala Kubu Baru seat is in the hands of a MCA representative.

Umno lobbying for the seat

Since the seat fell vacant, Umno has been lobbying for the parliamentary seat, traditionally allotted to MIC, taking into account the majority of Malay voters.

However, sources revealed that the BN top leadership is expected to stick to the "tried and tested" formula and was unlikely to ask for a seat swap.

"This is because the leaders know that putting a Umno candidate would spoil Indian votes, who could turn out to be the kingmakers of this by-election. The Malays would vote a BN candidate no matter if he is Malay, Chinese or Indian. But this is not so with Indian voters.

"They prefer Palanivel as he had served the constituency for the last three terms prior to 2008. If a Malay candidate is put forth, then the Indians would be exploited by the opposition saying that MIC is bowing to Umno," said a source.

Another fact pointed out by the source is that Umno was lacking in a credible local leader to take up the challenge in Hulu Selangor although several names had been highlighted.

Another fact which points to Palanivel as the BN candidate is the increase in activity at his service centre in Kuala Kubu Baru with hordes of MIC grassroot leaders converging the building every evening receiving instructions on campaign strategies.

"Palanivel is also touching base with Umno and MCA leaders here... it is not MIC leaders alone coming here. They (MIC, MCA and Umno) are doing it separately but once the election date is announced they would come together.

"Having the deputy prime minister (Muhyiddin Yassin) as the director of operations would ensure that all BN parties work together to win this seat. Once we know the nomination date we would start joint operations," a party election worker told FMT.

by FMT

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