Sunday, March 15, 2009

BN picks locals to contest

War of flags - Flags and banners from UMNO. PAS and the ruling [party Barisan Nasional compete for voter's asttention in Kedah. On the campaign trail with Dato' Mukhriz Mahatir in Jerlun, Kedah. [Malaysian Elections 2008] -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Kuala Lumpur - The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) yesterday named local boys as its candidates for three upcoming by-elections, ahead of a pre-election campaign that kicks off on March 29.

Its choices reveal that it is serious about going all-out to win the April 7 by-elections.

The opposition has yet to name its candidates.

Former Bukit Gantang Umno information chief Ismail Saffian, 49, has been chosen as BN's candidate for the parliamentary by-election in Bukit Gantang, Perak.

The choice of a local candidate in Bukit Gantang is significant because BN's candidate during the March elections, Mr Azim Zabidi, was not local. He lost to Parti Islam SeMalaysia's Roslan Shaharum, who died last month.

Mr Azim's candidacy also created resentment among local Umno divisions.

It has become increasingly crucial for BN to win the Bukit Gantang contest amid a constitutional crisis in Perak.

A win for the opposition would cause embarrassment for the BN, which took over the Perak government earlier this year amid defections.

Both sides have refused to concede defeat and the crisis is at an impasse.

Widespread sympathy for the opposition could lead to an easy victory for them here.

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