PEKAN, July 4 — Today is polling day for the Chini state by-election with the election process being held under the new normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 20,816 people are eligible to exercise their right at the 13 polling centres, involving 65 streams, which open from 8 am to 5.30 pm, and the result to be announced by returning officer Datuk Zaliza Zulkipli in the evening at the National Youth Skills Institute (IKBN) near here.
The 13 polling centres are at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Mambang, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Paloh Hinai, SK Kinchir, Dewan Mempelas Kampung Baru PPSK Salong, SK LKTP Chini Timur 1, SMK Chini Timur, Balai Raya Kampung Dusun, SK LKTP Chini Timur 2, SK LKTP Chini 3 and 5, SK LKTP Chini 1 and 4, Kelas Al-Quran and Fardu Ain (KAFA) Felda Chini 3, Sekolah Agama Rakyat (KAFA) Nur Ilham Felda Chini 1 and SMK Chini 2.
The Chini by-election is the 11th by-election after the 14th general election (GE14) and the first for the Perikatan Nasional government (PN) after taking over the country’s administration from Pakatan Harapan (PH) last March.
A total of 838 election personnel, as well as more than 700 policemen and officers are on duty today to ensure a smooth election, with at least three health workers stationed at each polling centre as a precautionary measure should there be voters with the COVID-19 symptoms.
To facilitate adherence to social distancing, the Election Commission (EC) advised voters to come out according to the proposed time on their voter’s card, as well as to comply with the prescribed standard operating procedures (SOP), like wearing face mask.
Unlike in previous elections, the Chini by-election can be regarded as the most quiet and held in the calmest situation, right since nomination day last June 20, with no rally or assembly alliowed during the campaign period, except for “ceramah” (political talk) with attendance of not more than 250 people.
The EC, in fact, encouraged candidates to conduct their campaign through the social media although they are allowed to carry out house to house campaign, but it should not involve many people, as well as no shaking hands.
The Chini state by-election will witness a three-cornered fight between Barisan Nasional’s (BN) , Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41, who is a Felda Chini second-generation settler, and two independent candidates, businessman Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin, 64, and blogger Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, 49.
The by-election was held following the death of incumbent Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun, 60, at Kuala Lumpur Hospital due to a heart attack on May 7. Abu Bakar was Chini state assemblyman since the 11th general election in 2004.
In the 14th general election, Abu Bakar retained the Chini state seat with a majority of 4,622 votes, after securing 10,027 votes against PAS candidate Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim, who obtained 5,405 votes and PKR’s Mohamad Razali Ithnain, with 1,065 votes.