DAP wins Sibu by 398 votes BUT postal vote should be abolished

UPDATED 11.45PM DAP's Wong Ho Leng today wrestled the Sibu parliamentary seat from Barisan Nasional with a wafer-thin majority of 398 votes, announced Returning Officer Wong See Meng at about 11pm.

Wong garnered 18,845 votes while his rival Robert Lau Hui Yew from BN managed to get 18,447 votes and independent Narawi Haron got only 234 votes to lose his deposit.

The inclusion of the postal votes has drastically reduced DAP's margin which at one point stood at almost 2,500 votes. The results from the postal votes hugely favoured BN – 2,323 out of 2,537.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guang Eng, when asked to comment on the results, said: "Sibu wants change, they have voted for change, they want to work with their partners in Peninsular."

“BN has no more fixed deposits anyway.... it is finished. Pakatan needed this win and it is ours,” he added.

In the 2008 general election, the late Robert Lau from BN retained the Sibu seat with a 3,549-vote majority to beat Wong and another PKR candidate.

While this win does not alter the balance of power in Parliament, it nevertheless shows that Pakatan Rakyat is gaining a foothold in Sarawak which for decades had been a fixed deposit for BN.

This win will also give Pakatan a much-needed boost in facing BN in the Sarawak state elections which must be held by next year.

As for BN, this defeat today will bring the coalition back to the drawing board as it went into the contest as the overwhelming favourite to retain the seat. The by-election today also came just after BN had won the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat from PKR last month.

The voters' rejection of the BN candidate came despite BN chairperson and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's two trips to Sibu - a two-day visit in the middle of the week and a last-minute visit yesterday - where he had pledged almost RM20 million for the consitutency.

A conspiracy in place?

Meanwhile FMT also learnt that BN leaders, including Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, had left the counting centre long before the results were announced.

The delay in the Election Commission in announcing the results also caused some concern for the DAP leaders.

The EC was to have announced the results by 9pm but it only came two hours later, due to some problems relating to the validity of witnesses' signature for postal votes

“Postal ballot counting started at 5.30pm and finished at 8.30pm. Why more than hour long delay in holding up the announcement of results,” asked DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang in his twitter entry.

“Up to some tricks?” he further queried.

In another twitter entry, Kit Sing asked if there was an attempt being undertaken to "steal" the Sibu by-election from the people of Sibu.

However after the results were officially announced, Kit Siang paid tribute to the “great people of Sibu”. He said they have “written history and created the Sibu Miracle”. The Sibu seat is DAP's second parliamentary seat in Sarawak, following Bandar Kuching.

A Sibu miracle

Earlier at about 6.15pm, unofficial vote tallies indicated that DAP was fighting back in reversing an early lead taken by the BN.

Loud cheers of joy broke out at the DAP operations room as vote counts from ballot boxes in the Chinese majority Pelawan area were being counted, giving a clear indication that DAP's Wong was in the lead over BN's Robert Lau Hui Yew.

Following this latest vote count, Kit Sing said this in his twitter message: “From incoming results, hopes of a Sibu miracle more than alive despite initial reverses. Ho Leng may still be elected Sibu MP.”

The mood earlier was however gloomy as unofficial tallies put BN ahead of DAP by 1,985 votes based on 19 channels, or roughly 12 percent of votes counted.

The polling process for the by-election ended at 5pm today. Out of the 45 polling centres opened to facilitate the polling process, 10 closed at 1pm, five at 2pm, six at 3pm, two at 4pm and the remaining 22 at 5pm.

The vote counting process is currently underway and the tallying will be done at the Sibu Civic Centre here. The result is expected to be known by 10pm.

Voter turnout revised

The Election Commission also revised its voter turnout statistics to 70 percent. Earlier at the closing of the polls, EC chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said the voter turnout was only 59.86 percent - which fell lower than the 67 percent recorded in the 2008 general election. The EC had expected a 80 percent turnout.

Meanwhile, Sibu police chief ACP Shafie Ismail said polling went smoothly except for a minor incidents of heckling among supporters of the contesting parties.

A total of 52,158 voters were eligible to to cast their votes to elect their new member of parliament at 45 polling stations with 110 streams at 39 schools, two kindergartens, a training centre, a longhouse, a public library and a public recreational centre.

Another 2,537 postal voters, comprising 1,910 military and 627 police personnel, had cast their ballots on Thursday and Friday.

The fair weather in the morning augured well for a smooth polling process as voters began queuing up even before the centres were opened to choose either the Barisan Nasional (BN)'s Robert Lau Hui Yew, DAP's Bukit Assek state assemblyman, Wong Ho Leng, or independent Narawi Haron.

Ten polling centres will close at 1pm, five at 2pm, six at 3pm, two at 4pm and 22 at 5pm.

Hui Yew, accompanied by his wife, Lucinda Lau Lin, cast his vote at the SMK Rosli Dhoby polling centre here while Wong and his wife Irene Chong cast theirs at Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Goung Ann here. Hui Yew is a registered voter in the Lanang parliamentary constituency.
Narawi cast his vote at SMK Sungai Merah at about 10am.

The by-election is expected to be a close race after eight days of intense campaigning, which saw BN big guns stumping around the constituency to build up support.

FMT
17/05/10

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