Nomination day today was marred with a series of shocks that saw numerous politicians defy their party leaderships by contesting the May 5 general elections as independents, forcing multi-cornered fights in a staggering number of seats nationwide.
Some faced the sack while others voluntarily quit their respective parties to push through with their electoral bids for what is clearly turning out to be the country’s most fiercely-contested polls battles to date.
Wanita Umno deputy chief Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim dropped a bombshell on her party this morning when she announced her decision to quit her political posts to stand as an independent in Kuala Kangsar, a seat last held by senior politician Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
Her Umno colleague in Penang, former minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shariff Omar also put his party membership in jeopardy when he filed is nomination papers for two seats in the northern state – the Tasek Gelugor federal seat and the Sungai Dua state seat.
MCA’s Yoong Tham Fook joined his two fellow Barisan Nasional (BN) comrades by contesting as an independent in Kuala Kubu Baru against party colleague Jessie Ooi Hui Wen.
In Gerakan, five members defied their party’s decision not to field them as candidates with one contesting under a KITA ticket and four others contesting as independents.
They include G. Krishnan in Kuala Ketil, Kedah, under KITA, A. Mohan in Batu Kawan and Bukit Tengah, Penang, Chin Kok Keong in Teratai, Selangor, Ooi Beng Kooi in Sidam, Kedah and Ooi Suan Hoe in Machang Bubuk, Penang.
In an immediate response, BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak said all rebel members standing as independents will receive their expulsion letters on Monday.
“One of the resolutions, anyone (BN leaders and members) contesting on an Independent ticket, cannot remain as a party member.
“As such, the party will take action on Monday to issue expulsion letters to members contesting as Independent candidates in the general election this time,” he was quoted saying by national news agency Bernama.
Similarly, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said in a statement here that those from his party standing as independents will have their memberships revoked immediately “with no exception”.
“The party will not tolerate the action of party members standing as independent candidates and this includes Party member, Yoong Tham Fook who has taken the liberty to contest as independent candidate in Kuala Kubu Baru.
“The MCA will take disciplinary action against the above said member and revoking their membership is the only action that the MCA will take,” he said.
Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said in a statement this evening that all five Gerakan candidates have been sacked for violating the party’s wishes.
Across the political divide, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) faced the same rebellion by several party leaders.
As of 7.30pm this evening, DAP confirmed that seven of its members are contesting as independents in the May 5 polls.
The DAP’s incumbents Jenice Lee and Sim Tong Him both defied their party leadership’s decision not to field them for the contest by filing nomination papers to defend their respective state seats – Lee’s in Teratai and Sim’s in Kota Melaka.
Others include Liew Kard Seong in Alor Setar, Loo Hock Chai in Kota Alam Shah, John Fernandez in Seremban, Yew Tian Hoe in Aulong, Perak, and Koh Boon Heng in Damak, Pahang.
Earlier today, DAP disciplinary committee chairman Tan Kok Wai confirmed that Lee and Sim would face the sack for contesting as independents.
It is believed that the other party members will face the same punishment for their bids.
In PKR, incumbent Machang Bubuk assemblyman Tan Hock Leong confirmed his intention to defend the Penang state seat. He had earlier informed the media that he quit all his party posts on Thursday to make way for his contest.
Tapah PKR division chief Ridzuan Bani did the same, and will be contesting in a four-cornered fight against Tapah incumbent Datuk M. Saravanan, who is MIC’s vice-president, PKR’s nominee Vasantha Kumar Krishnan and Berjasa’s Shaharuzzaman Bistamam.
At the close of nominations, the Election Commission (EC) confirmed a total of 579 candidates will contest 222 parliamentary seats in the May 5 general elections, including a record 79 independents.
This is the first time since the 1959 elections in the then independent Malaya to have a contest in all constituencies.
In total, BN registered 221 candidates with the rest from PKR (99), PAS (73), DAP (51), independents (79), State Reform Party (STAR) (28), Berjasa (9), Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) (8), Sarawak Workers Party (SWP) (6), Kita (2), Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) (2), and Bersama (1).
The BN candidate for Pasir Mas Che Johan Che Pa failed to file his nomination form this morning.
The EC said 1,320 candidates will contest state seats in 12 states, made of those from BN (505), PAS (236), PKR (172), DAP (102), independents (190), STAR (49), SAPP (41), Berjasa (5), Kita (11), Bersama (4), PCM (3), and Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) (2).
The number of independent candidates has also more than doubled since the last general election in 2008, when 36 independent candidates contested the federal seats, while 66 contested the state seats.
Some 13.3 million voters, including 5,200 abroad, are eligible to cast their ballots in Election 2013 to elect lawmakers in 222 federal and 505 state seats in 12 states. Sarawak already held its state elections in 2011.
The EC announced on April 10 that the 13th general election will be held on May 5, and nomination day falls today, which will signal the start of formal electoral campaigns that will last 15 days.
The EC had said voters abroad will cast their ballots at Malaysian embassies and high commissions around the world on April 28 while postal voters will do so on April 30.