KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 (Bernama) — Malaysia’s 15th general election campaign (GE15) officially kicked off today with a record number of 945 candidates vying for parliamentary seats, making the polls the most intense in the country’s history.
They comprise 818 male and 127 female candidates, a significant increase compared to a total of 687 candidates in GE14 and 579 in GE13.
The nomination process from 9 am-10 am ran smoothly and returned to being a colouful and vibrant event just like in pre-COVID-19 times, with the presence of thousands of supporters dotting the grounds of the 222 nomination centres nationwide.
Nominations were not all plain sailing though. Police later in the day confirmed that there had been a commotion at the Tenom parliamentary nomination centre after the papers filed by Parti Kesejahteraan Demokratik Masyarakat (KDM) president Datuk Peter Anthony were rejected.
Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Salleh, in a media conference, said six nomination papers were rejected involving four parliamentary and two state seats, adding also that no candidates had won uncontested.
GE15 will see four political coalitions, tens of parties and Independent candidates in the fray. Pakatan Harapan (PH) will be fielding 206 candidates, the highest among the four coalitions, followed by Barisan Nasional (BN) with 178 candidates and Perikatan Nasional (PN) with 149, while Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), with 116 candidates, will be contesting using the Pejuang and Parti Bumiputera Perkasa Malaysia (Putra) logos.
In the east coast states of Kelantan and Terengganu, 22 PN candidates will be using the PAS logo, nine GTA candidates in Kelantan will use Putra’s logo while in Sarawak, eight PH candidates will be contesting using the DAP logo.
The Batu parliamentary seat in Kuala Lumpur stole the limelight on nomination day after a 10-cornered fight was confirmed, the highest in the country, that will see the incumbent challenged by among others, a former incumbent, a former deputy minister, a lawyer and social media influencer.
Just one candidate shy of Batu is the Ampang parliamentary seat, which will see a nine-cornered fight.
There are also eight-cornered contests in three constituencies, seven-cornered (five constituencies), six-cornered (24 constituencies), five-cornered (43 constituencies), four-cornered (82 constituencies), seven-cornered (54 constituencies) and nine straight fights.
With the completion of the nomination process, several constituencies can expect stiff competition, among them being the Tambun and Bagan Datuk seats in Perak as well as the Gombak, Sungai Buloh and Kuala Selangor seats in Selangor involving several major political figures.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is also an UMNO vice-president, is contesting in his stronghold of the Bera parliamentary seat, which he has held since 2004, facing two challengers, namely Abas Awang from Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Datuk Asmawi Harun (PN).
In Tambun, incumbent Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu, who is also Bersatu deputy president, will be challenged by PH chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and two others while BN chairman Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will be up against former PKR information chief Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin and two others in Bagan Datuk.
Gombak, meanwhile, will see a clash between mentor Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali (PN), who is also the incumbent, and his protege Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, who is also the Selangor Menteri Besar, in a five-way tussle.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, the man BN is counting on to wrest the Sungai Buloh parliamentary seat, faces a seven-cornered fight while Amanah strategy director Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who is also the Kuala Selangor incumbent, will be challenged by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (BN) and two others.
The general election this time will also see 108 independent candidates trying their luck, with Selangor recording the highest number of independents at 24, who will be using various logos including that of an elephant, pen, clock, hoe and tree.
Among the independent candidates are Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin in Padang Besar; former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president Tan Sri M. Kayveas (Ipoh Barat); social activist Kuan Chee Heng or “Uncle Kentang” (Puchong); incumbent Wong Tack (Bentong); and activist Abdul Rani Kulop Abdullah (Port Dickson).
In addition, GE15 will also see four incumbents contesting on the tickets of other political parties, namely UMNO leaders Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim (PN-Arau) and Seri Ismail Abdul Muttalib (PN-Maran) as well as PAS leader Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi (BN-Tumpat) and former PAS leader Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali (BN-Kuala Nerus).
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, 97, and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, 85, who will be contesting the Langkawi and Gua Musang parliamentary seats respectively, are the two oldest candidates while 23-year-old independent candidate Peggy Chaw Zhi Ting (Tenom, Sabah) is the youngest.
Polls for the 222 parliamentary seats are being held along with the state elections of Perak, Pahang and Perlis, involving 116 seats, after the three states dissolved their state legislative assemblies following the dissolution of the 14th Parliament on Oct 10.
The seven-cornered Bugaya state by-election, meanwhile, will also be held at the same time following the death of incumbent Manis Muka Mohd Darah on Nov 17, 2020. The by-election was postponed following the proclamation of emergency to curb the spread of COVID-19.
A total of 21,173,638 registered voters will cast their ballots in GE15, involving 20,905,366 normal voters, 146,737 army personnel and their spouses, 118,794 police personnel and their spouses and 2,741 who are overseas.
The EC has fixed Nov 19 as polling day and Nov 15 for early voting.
Source: BERNAMA News Agency