Bemused Light Strike Force personnel keep an eye on the good-humoured exchange and canvassing outside the Chendering School. Thousands of police have been deployed
Exuberant Pas supporters outnumber the BN folks just before noon: This scene is repeated in other streets of KT today.
The final majority is 2,631. Congrats, blog reader Rahman S; you came really close with your “2,968 votes with +-2% error” prediction! Thanks to all who helped with information from the counting centre and the media. Outside I can hear a whole convoy of honking motorbikes and other vehicles passing on the main road. As in Permatang Pauh, it was the celebrating motorcyclists who were the first to be so sure of victory soon after polling stations had closed…
2105: Pas leads by 2,424 in the official tally, with two boxes left. It’s impossible for the BN to catch up.
Congratulations to the victors! Where does this leave Najib? Anyway, now I can have something to eat! But first, we are off to check out the scene on the streets.
2104: Pas leads by 2,400 votes with three more boxes left.
2103: It’s now a 1,700 majority with 10 boxes more to be counted.
2102: Pas has stretched its lead to 1,500, as it enters the home straight. Eighteen boxes more to be counted.
2058: Pas has now widened its official lead to 1,300. What a roller-coaster ride this has been!
2051: Pas has now taken a 900-majority lead, according to the official tally.
2049: Officially, Pas leads by 600 votes now.
2043: According to an unofficial Pas source, still unconfirmed, as related to an activist, Pas has won. According to another source, who just phones up, the unofficial majority is 2,700 or so. But let’s see how the official results pan out.
2031: According to unofficial sources, Pas has taken a 2,700-majority lead with over 100 boxes out of 144 counted. Officially, Pas is in the lead by 200 votes.
2026: Malaysiakini is reporting that, according to unofficially sources, Pas has won in the Bandar state area by a 190-vote majority.
2020: Officially, at the Dewan Stadium, Pas is now ahead by 100 votes with 81 of 140 boxes having been counted.
2015: An unofficial government source tells an analyst that they are expecting a 300-majority win for the BN.
2005: Two unofficial tallying sources put Pas ahead by 1,500 votes.
1954: Official results indicate BN now leading by around 300 votes, says my source at Dewan Stadium. But another source suggests Pas could be leading by a thousand votes, according to unofficial tallies.
1950: Press circles indicate that Pas is doing badly in Kg Cina while Malay votes are close. MStar reports that the BN candidate grabbed the lion’s share of postal votes: 1,039 to 86, with the independent bagging one.
1943: Another source inside Dewan Stadium tells me the BN is leading by around 700 votes.
1937: Word has it that late-comers are being stopped from entering Dewan Stadium.
1935: Pas is leading by 475 votes at 7.00pm, according to HarakahDaily, Malaysiakini has Pas ahead by 158 votes, but Malaysian Insider is reporting BN leading by 776 votes.
1926: Still conflicting reports from a source outside the tallying centre. Pas is leading in several salurans being monitored.
1914: A massive traffic jam chokes the roads leading to the Pas markas which is monitoring the results, and [email protected] is unable to get there.
1909: Final turnout is 79.73 per cent, according to my source.
1855: Reports are conflicting, and the lead appears to be changing hands. But that doesn’t stop another batch of 50 honking motorcylists wrapped in Pas flags from zooming past our hotel in the direction of the state stadium. An activist tell me that an unconfirmed report suggests Pas is leading in Wakaf. This by-election could be going down the wire.
1847: The word is still inconsistent. Certain Umno sources suggest they are leading and all of a sudden, some on the Pas side don’t seem as confident. On the main road, motorcyclists draped with Pas flags honk and vroom in the direction of the state stadium where the tallying will be held.
1810: Nearby our hotel, the BN has closed its pondok panas while the Pas folks are still at theirs. The chopper is still hovering above.
1805: An analyst says that there is a feeling among Pas circles that they may have won. One Pas source in Chendering is still predicting a 2,000 to 3,000 majority.
1734: Najib is understood to be still in town, so the results must be close, says an observer. The Chinese turnout is still unclear – now said to be low – but the talk is that Pas has scored well among the Chinese voters.
1721: The Star (English), NST and Bernama have not been reporting anything new. MStar, on the other hand, reports that the Election Commission deputy chairman is saying that the turnout is close to 80 per cent. That’s comparable to the 82 per cent in the 2008 general election.
1713: Unofficial Umno sources inform an analyst that Pas may have won in Wakaf, though the other areas are likely to be close. A report, which seems to contradict information received earlier, suggests that the turnout at Kampong Cina could be closer to 70 per cent. The chopper continues to buzz above the city.
1659: A helicopter hovers above the city as polling draws to a close.
1648: Zunar, the Suara Keadilan editor, is predicting a 500 to 1,000 majority for Pas.
1638: The Commission is estimating a turnout of 72 per cent by 4.00pm, according to MStar. Malaysiakini reports it as 76 per cent. Will the turnout miraculously reach the Commission’s earlier prediction of 90 per cent?
1618: Harakah Daily claims that 60 per cent of voters have been checking their names at the Pas booths rather than the BN’s. Another report expresses concern about the presence of a number of FRU trucks, especially at Ladang School and other parts of the city.
1616: Election Commission chairman Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof is expecting younger voters to cast their ballots later in the day, according to The Star. Who are these youths and why are they voting so late?
The Commission is reporting a turnout of 70 per cent by 3.00pm, according to the Malaysian Insider.
1600: An analyst outside on the streets phones in to say that the predicted result that is being talked about is anything from a 1,000-majority for the BN to a 2,000-majority in favour of Pas. That’s a more pessimistic range. The turnout in the Bandar state seat is apparently lower than expected, possibly due to MCA supporters staying away, adds the analyst.
Bernama is reporting a turnout of 62 per cent by 2.00pm.
1547: Pas leaders are said to be worried about the possibility of phantom voters coming in.
1501: A DAP activist tells me that the response they got in Kampung Cina this morning was “phenomenal”. Now, this is one of the areas that the BN did well the last time around.
“The MCA folks were out there canvassing as well, but they grew frustrated at the response we received and could be seen talking into their handphones asking for reinforcements. They eventually gave up when the crowd around us grew. Soon, plainclothes police arrived and started taking pictures of us.”
1445: The predictions start flowing in. I get a text message from a colleague – 60:40 in Pas’ favour. Another text message from a friend tells me that his MCA official friend travelled to KT to help out in the BN campaign and returned the next day, sooner than expected, saying, “Susah to win.”
Blog reader Rahman S chips in:
My prediction based on gut feeling is Pas win with majority: 2,968 votes with +-2% error.
Wow, that’s pretty precise, Rahman! Many of the Pas supporters themselves are cautiously optimistic, predicting a majority of 1,000 t0 2,000 votes.
1345: On the journey of more than a dozen kilometres back to the hotel, I survey the streets to get a feel for the mood on the streets. I start counting vehicles (including motorbikes) bearing flags to try and get a rough idea of Pas and BN supporters on the move. The tally along the drive back: 40 vehicles bearing Pakatan party flags and 15 with BN flags. That’s almost 3 to 1.
Along the way, we look at the crowds of supporters, many of them women and even children, waving flags at roundabouts, intersections, near schools that are used at polling stations: again the Pas supporters clearly outnumber the BN in terms of numbers; they are smiling and look more enthusiastic and expectant.
NST is reporting that 42 per cent have cast their votes by noon. The Election Commission is expecting a 90 per cent turnout (that’s really high!) compared to a turnout of 82 per cent in the 2008 general election.
1300: A the Chendering School polling station, the Pas and BN supporters are evenly matched in terms of numbers. The Pas supporters have four tents outside for shade from the sun while the BN folks have a similar number.
Supporters from both BN and Pakatan, most of them women, line the side of the path leading towards the school. The cheers from the Pakatan crowd are a shade more exuberant, the flag-waving a little more vigorous.
Light Strike Force personnel keep an eye and gravitate to the Pakatan side a little, but mostly the cheering and banter is good-humoured and even the riot police can’t help a smile. Riot police smiling?
Occasionally, a van passes by with a group of youths inside and they cry out “reformasi”! A chopper clatters overhead but nobody bats an eyelid. It has become a regular feature of by-elections.
1227: We arrive at Chendering, a rural village near the coast in the closely contested Batu Buruk state constituency inside the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat. The mood in this closely fought seat will be a good indicator of the final result.
A fairly large crowd is gathered around the polling station. PKR Youth, Pas members and Umno members are hanging around. We are in a coffee shop filled with Pas and PKR members, judging by the light blue and green T shirts. I spot the amiable Mustafa Kamal, the PKR election operations director from Penang, and he says, “We have a fighting chance of winning.”
There’s a carnival-like atmosphere outside. The Pas supporters look a bit more enthusiatic and lively while the BN supporters appear a little fewer in numbers and a bit more subdued, though there were some pockets of enthusiasm.
A majority of cars passing by with flags are those from Pas, but about half a dozen motorbikes just pass by now bearing BN flags.
Says blog reader RSD:
I can conclude that Pas will win by bigger majority… great job Barisan Rakyat. Also I have a Chinese friend in KT who will be voting for Pas tomorrow. According to her, the talk among the Chinese voters there is that they are fed up with Umno/BN lies and bullying other races.
1000: We drive around the town centre. Party flags are flying all over the road. Near polling stations, Pas supporters are waving banners and flags and urging passing motorists to vote for their party. BN supporters are also out on the streets but they look a bit more subdued. We stop to take pictures of the action around a few polling stations. Police are making their presence felt.
0900: I wake up late after another round of late-night blogging. First things first, breakfast. My friends and I head out for some roti paun again. But before we reach the cafe in the town centre, they get diverted to a Malay coffee stall selling naan and chicken curry and tandoori. Pretty heavy stuff for breakfast, but I tag along. The stall is filled with dozens of people, despite today being a weekend holiday. Some are chatting, three others at another table reading Utusan (front page news of the bombing of a Gaza hospital), another table with police personnel, others could be voters or volunteers.