14/03/2004

Pas rep spoils Johor BN's dream of a clean sweep

Pas rep spoils Johor BN's dream of a clean sweep

JOHOR BAHRU March 13 - The cherished dream of the Johor Barisan Nasional (BN) to repeat a clean sweep as in 1995 and 1999 was dashed when Pas won a state seat unopposed on nomination day Saturday.

Pas candidate Dr Mohd Ramli Mohd Kari won the Senggarang state seat uncontested after the BN candidate Shamsiah Rashidah Ibrahim failed to comply with a nomination procedure.

Owing to the technical slip-up, the returning officer rejected Shamsiah's nomination papers, thus giving a walk-over to Pas.

The Johor BN made a clean sweep of all 20 parliamentary and 40 state seats in the 1995 and 1999 General Elections, making Johor the BN's fortress.

In this election, 26 parliamentary and 56 state seats are up for grabs, an increase of six parliamentary and 16 state seats.

The BN, which is contesting in all the seats, is expected to face a tough fight from Pas, DAP, Keadilan and PRM.

Johor BN secretary Datuk Ali Hassan expressed shock and disappointment over the Senggarang seat falling into Pas' hands for the first time in Johor's history.

Ali, who did not defend his Tebrau parliament seat in this election, said the easy win by Pas should not have happened merely due to a technical slip-up.

BN candidate Shamsiah, 60, was making her debut in this election, succeeding State Legislative Assembly Speaker Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin who was axed.

"I don't understand how the incident can happen as the briefing given to the candidates was very clear, especially related to the proposer and seconder who must be residents in the constituency.

"I also want to know whether the nomination form was kept by Shamsiah or was given to another person (proposer or seconder or election commission official)," he told Bernama when contacted.

Ali said the nomination form should not be handed to another person for safe-keeping.

Previously, only DAP and Semangat 46 had won several seats in Johor.

Johor Pas secretary Onn Jaafar said the party did not expect to win a seat on nomination day, especially in Johor which is regarded a BN stronghold.

He said the victory was a morale booster for Pas members in Johor.

"We did not expect to clinch a seat. It's a surprise we've won a seat before we contested. The Senggarang incident has boosted our morale," he said.

He said what happened in Senggarang would be a turning point for Pas to break the BN's 100 percent dominance in the birth state of UMNO.

"We'll double our efforts to win more seats on March 21 and in future. Johor is longer BN's bastion. We've made inroads into the fortress," he said.

Onn, who is contesting in the Sembrong parliamentary seat, is facing UMNO Youth chief Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar described the Senggarang incident as "a sad episode" for Johor.

"This is because BN lost not in a contest but before entering the fray," he said.

Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said he was disappointed with the loss of the Senggarang seat.

Nevertheless, the BN was unperturbed by the incident and would work hard to win the remaining seats.

He regretted the mistake made by the seconder who was not a voter in Senggarang.

It is understood that the seconder was a registered voter in Penggaram and cannot be the seconder for Senggarang.

Agriculture Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Friday he did not expect Pas to win a single seat in Johor.

He said Pas had vowed to hold a grand feast even if they win one seat in the state.