The country will face two by-elections within the next 60 days after a Member of Parliament (MP) in Perak died, while a Kedah assemblyman quit — both on Monday.
Bukit Gantang MP Roslan Shaharum of PAS died of a heart attack on Monday morning, while Bukit Selambau assemblyman V. Arumugam of PKR quit his seat and his position on the Kedah executive council in the afternoon.
Arumugam, the sole Indian Pakatan Rakyat state executive councillor in Kedah, resigned amidst allegations linking him to a “marriage scandal.” He won the Bukit Selambau state seat in the March 8 general election last year as an independent, then subsequently joined PKR.
He was said to have informed PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of his decision in a discreet meeting in Ipoh on Sunday.
Arumugam was the Domestic, Trade and Consumer Affairs, Siamese Community, Unity, Estate Workers and Indian Community Affairs committee chairman.
Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak said that Arumugam has tended his resignation letter to the Sultan of Kedah’s office on Monday.
Arumugam was said to be under a lot of pressure to defect and had even lodged a police report on threats that he allegedly received.
Azizan said that he knew that Arumugam had personal problems but he did know the details.
He said that the state exco would be reshuffled in March and he would name someone to fill Arumugam’s post then. Until then, he himself would assume the portfolio temporarily.
“The seat is allocated to PKR thus we will select a PKR assemblyman for the seat. If PKR does not want the seat, we will then offer it to other Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen,” he said.
In BATU GAJAH, Roslan’s death would pave the way for yet another by-election.
“Once we receive official notification of his death by the Dewan Rakyat Speaker (Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia), we will have a special meeting to discuss when to call for a by-election,” Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof told The Star’s Malay portal, mStar.
The Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau by-elections would make it four by-elections to be held since the 12th general election last March.
The first was in Permatang Pauh last year when its Member of Parliament Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail stepped down to make way for her husband, now Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, to contest.
Anwar won the seat, which marked his return to Parliament after a decade.
The second was in Kuala Terenganu in January following the death of its MP Datuk Razali Ismail last Nov 28.
PAS candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut won the seat, beating Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh and independent Azharuddin Mamat @ Adam.
The Bukit Gantang constituency has three state assembly seats under it: Trong, Kuala Sapetang and Changkat Jering, whose assemblyman Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu quit PKR last week to become an independent.
The Pakatan Rakyat alliance is already gearing up for the by-election, with Perak DAP chief Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham suggesting former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin as the ideal candidate.
“I believe Nizar is a symbolic figure in view of the present circumstances in which the state government has been toppled by the Barisan Nasional through an undemocratic and unconstitutional way.
“It is an opportunity for the people of Perak, hopefully through their peers in Bukit Gantang, to express what is in their heart — whether they will accept the power-grab by Barisan.
“This is the message we want the people of Bukit Gantang to express,” he said before briefing Perak DAP members on the latest developments in the state on Monday.
Barisan wrested the state back from Pakatan last week after three assemblymen quit from their parties (including Mohd Osman from Changkat Jering), and a fourth defected back to Umno from PKR.
While both Barisan and Pakatan hold 28 seats each in the 59-seat state assembly, the three said they would remain independent but pledged their support to Barisan.
This led to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, to declare that Barisan had the majority and allowed it to form the state government.
Ngeh said Nizar was well accepted by Malays, Chinese, Indians and orang asli (aborigines).
“Nizar is an efficient leader. I personally believe that he will get full support from the people,” he said.
However, Ngeh said the Perak DAP would accept and support any candidate recommended by PAS.
“There may be other reasons, strategies and plans that PAS may have. We will respect and go full force to assist and support its candidate,” he said.
Meanwhile, according to family members and the police, the 50-year-old Roslan had sent his car to a car-wash near his home in Changkat Larang near here when he complained of chest pains.
He borrowed a bicycle from one of the car-wash workers to go to the nearest pharmacy.
His body was found at a slip road by passersby at 11:15am, Batu Gajah OCPD ACP Najib Mohamad said.
Roslan, who leaves behind a wife and 11 children, was formerly the human resource director of Perak Economic Development Corporation.
Last July, he was named chairman of Perak’s education foundation, Yayasan Perak.
According to Roslan’s daughter Fatimah, 21, the whole family had been in Cameron Highlands for a family outing over the weekend when her father received a call on Sunday evening.
He was summoned to a meeting at the home of the former mentri besar Nizar, who has refused Sultan Azlan Shah’s call for him to step down.
“He was there until 1.30 in the morning, and left home at 10am,” Fatimah said.
His wife Safiah Harun, 50, said Roslan had collapsed once about a month ago on an official visit to Taiwan because of a heart problem.
The funeral will be held at 6pm Monday at his kampung (village) in Changkat Larang, she said.
In the March 8 general election last year, Roslan had polled 20,015 votes against Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi’s (Barisan Nasional) 18,449 votes.
The third candidate was an independent, M. Morgan, who got 872 votes.