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By-election to be held in Negeri Sembilan as Anwar takes first step towards power

KUALA LUMPUR — Port Dickson federal lawmaker Danyal Balagopal Abdullah vacated his seat on Wednesday (Sept 12), triggering a by-election in Negeri Sembilan state that would pave the way for prime minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to take power.

By-election to be held in Negeri Sembilan as Anwar takes first step towards power

Port Dickson’s incumbent lawmaker Danyal Balagopal Abdullah (centre) said he will resign as Member of Parliament.

KUALA LUMPUR — Port Dickson federal lawmaker Danyal Balagopal Abdullah vacated his seat on Wednesday (Sept 12), triggering a by-election in Negeri Sembilan state that would pave the way for prime minister-in-waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to take power.

“It is time for Anwar to proceed to helm the nation... but (to do so), he needs to be a Member of Parliament (MP)," said Mr Danyal at a press conference at the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) headquarters.

“I wholeheartedly offered to vacate my seat as Port Dickson MP to enable a by-election to be called so that Anwar can contest in the said parliamentary seat. I am now announcing my resignation as a member of House representative with immediate effect."

The announcement puts an end to intense speculation over which seat Mr Anwar, PKR’s incoming president, will be contesting.

Port Dickson was among several seats that were being offered by PKR lawmakers to Mr Anwar to contest, said party secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

"The party and Anwar took into account all considerations and we believed he settled on the seat based on his belief that he can win," he said.

NEXT STEPS

Mr Danyal's letter of resignation as the MP for Port Dickson has been submitted to the Parliament's speaker on Wednesday. The speaker will then have to inform the Election Commission on the vacancy of the seat.

Under Malaysia's laws, a by-election must be held within 60 days, from the date of resignation. The nomination and polling dates are expected to be announced in the next few days.

Given his popularity, Mr Anwar is expected to win.

Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, a fellow at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, expects the opposition Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to put up a good fight. But he told TODAY that Mr Anwar is likely to prevail.

"The margin of victory that PKR achieved in the last election was pretty substantial so it is quite difficult for BN to win," he noted.

Mr Rashaad Ali, a research analyst from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies said: "Turnout will be lower than the last general election, but probably not as low as the recent by-elections because of the excitement that surrounds Anwar's return."

The three by-elections since the May 9 national polls — Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia and Balakong — were all marked by exceptionally low voter turnouts, below 50 per cent and many have put this down to voter fatigue.

Still, the upcoming by-election is not a surprise as it is part of Pakatan Harapan (PH) agreement where Dr Mahathir Mohamad is supposed to give up the premiership to allow Mr Anwar to become prime minister within a two-year timeframe.

Mr Anwar was given a royal pardon days after PH won the May general election. He was serving a five-year jail sentence for sodomy.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PORT DICKSON

The seaside town of Port Dickson — a federal constituency — was a BN stronghold until the 2008 general election, when it fell to PKR.

It is a mixed constituency with 75,212 voters. Malay voters make up 43 per cent of the constituency, while Chinese and Indian voters make up 33 per cent and 22 per cent respectively.

In the May 9 general election, Mr Danyal, a retired naval officer and political greenhorn, garnered 36,225 votes, or 59.06 per cent vote share in a three-cornered fight against BN and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia candidates. There is a concentration of army camps and training centres in the ward.

PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli on Wednesday described the constituency as "winnable" and added that as an incoming prime minister, Mr Anwar will "inject more excitement on the ground" to achieve a good voter turnout.

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