Malaysia sees one of its wettest by-elections


LABIS: Malaysia experienced one of its wettest by-elections as Tenang, where voters went to the polls yesterday, and Labis, were hit by floods following heavy rain since early morning.

INUNDATED: The condition at Labis-Segamat road in Labis following days of continuous rain. A Bernama survey, however, showed the road was not closed to traffic yesterday, and therefore did not affect the voting in the Tenang by-election. — Bernama photo

The Tenang by-election however, did not suffer a major disruption due to the floods, claimed  the Election Commission which reported a 71.8 per cent turnout from the 14,753 total number of voters, when polling stations closed at 5pm yesterday.

Labis, the nearest town to Tenang where the by-election was being held, was badly hit by floods after continuous rain fall over the past six days saw the town submerged in about a metre of water.

Apart from Labis and Tenang, Segamat, Ayer Hitam and Yong Peng were also reported to be hit by flood waters.

According to reports, the floods in Labis was regarded one of the worst in a decade and more severe than the 2006 floods that paralyzed Johor.

Police spokesman Supt. Abdul Aziz Ahmad said flood waters  also forced the Labis-Segamat Road to be closed to traffic.

Abdul Aziz said as of 4pm, 1,536 people in Tenang were evacuated to 19 relief centres.

Meanwhile, an EC spokesman said yesterday’s polling for the by-election was not affected by the floods as all the 12 polling centres that were opened at 8am yesterday reported no floods.

The spokesman said although a number of roads were submerged in flood waters, the police, armed forces and the Fire and Rescue Department had used boats and army trucks to  ferry  voters to the centres.

He also said that EC had made all the necessary arrangements to make sure all the ballot boxes would be transferred to the main tally centre – Labis municipal hall – and the final result announced there.

Voters in Tenang cast their ballots yesterday to elect their next state assemblyman after the death of Datuk Sulaiman Taha who  had won the seat in the 2008 general election by beating PAS candidate Md Saim Siran by a 2,492-vote majority.

The by-election saw a straight fight between Barisan Nasional’s Mohd Azahar Ibrahim, 39,  a former assistant district officer, and PAS’ Normala Sudirman, 38, a former remedial teacher.

This rural state seat in northern Johor comprises three Felda settlements, five Malay kampong, three Chinese new villages, 25 mixed residential areas, one government quarters, four estates and two Orang Asli villages. — Bernama