KUALA TERENGGANU (Jan 18, 2009) :
After days of intense campaigning by contesting parties, voters in the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary constituency by-election yesterday gave their verdict -- electing PAS' Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut as the new member of parliament.
True to perception that Kuala Terengganu voters were unpredictable, they had left the decision to the last moment.
The outcome was that Mohd Abdul Wahid garnered 32,883 votes, defeating Barisan Nasional's (BN) Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh by 2,631 votes, while independent candidate Azharudin Mamat @ Adam obtained only 193 votes.
After the votes were counted, the ballot boxes from the 143 voting centres were brought to Stadium Negeri as early as 7pm yesterday for tallying of the votes.
Immediately after the by-election results were announced at 9.30pm, PAS supporters, carrying party flags on motorcycles and cars, took to the streets to celebrate their victory, causing a massive traffic jam in this waterfront heritage city.
The results prove that democracy still flourishes in the country amidst claims of phantom voters and vote buying by the Opposition.
In the last general election, BN's late Datuk Razali Ismail defended the seat he won in the 2004 general election, by a slim majority of 628 votes, defeating PAS' Mohamed Sabu and Independent Maimun Yusof who obtained 689 votes.
Of the constituency's 80,229 registerd voters, 63,967 or 79.73% turned up to cast their votes yesterday -- rather low by its standard which recorded more than 80% turnout in the last general election.
The by-election outcome shows that no one could claim that they had an upper hand when it came to the Kuala Terengganu constituency, for in the last two decades the seat had changed hands several times.
The seat which used to be under BN, went to Semangat 46 in the early 1990's before it was wrested back by BN. Then it went to PAS in 1999 and returned to BN in 2004 and retained it in 2008, only to lose it to PAS again in yesterday's by-election.
There are several factors as to why PAS managed to wrest the seat this time, but one of it is probably due to the fact that its candidate is also a five-term Wakaf Mempelam state assemblyman.
The results showed that 2,022 votes of Mohd Abdul Wahid's 2,631 winning majority came from his state seat.
While PAS savours victory, BN on the other hand has to go on another soul-searching as to why it was unable to defend the seat.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who led the BN campaign here, said BN accepted the decision of the people.
"In accordance with democratic principles, the people's voice is a sacred voice," he said.
Najib said despite the defeat, BN would continue to serve the people in Terengganu.
Despite everything, this by-election will be remembered as the most peaceful democratic process in the country's election history.
No violence nor major disturbance was reported during campaigning or on polling day despite the intense race to win the hearts of the Kuala Terengganu voters.
The results also indicated that the Election Commission (EC) meant business when its new chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said it would further improve its transparency and efficiency. -- BERNAMA