PEKAN - An Umno state leader in eastern Pahang state won the Chini by-election on Saturday (July 4), the first poll in Malaysia since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.
It was also the first by-election held under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government that came to power four months ago and is led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Umno is one of the members of the PN alliance.
Mr Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41, who contested under the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition flag, obtained 13,872 votes, a 12,650 vote lead ahead of his two other challengers, businessman Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin and social activist/blogger Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, who contested as Independent candidates.
Tengku Zainul got 1,222 votes while Mr Mohd Shukri only manage to secure 137 votes.
Voter turnout was at 74 per cent of the total 20,816 voters, exceeding the 70 per cent target set by the Election Commission.
Voters have showed up at the allocated time stated on their voter's cards earlier Saturday, wearing face masks and disposable gloves as well as adhering to social distancing measures. Their temperatures were taken before being allowed to cast their votes.
However, six voters were found to display Covid-19 symptoms, said health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. They were subsequently referred to a treatment camp and were allowed to cast their ballots there.
Mr Mohd Sharim's win is not a surprise as the Chini state-assembly seat is a stronghold of Umno.
The by-election was held following the May 6 death of incumbent Umno assemblyman Abu Bakar Harun, 60, due to a heart attack.
Chini is one of the four state seats under the Pekan parliamentary constituency, which is held by former prime minister Najib Razak.
The opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which contested the seat and lost in the May 2018 general election, did not contest in the by-election.
Mr Mohd Sharim is a second-generation Felda Chini settler and chairman of the youth council of Kuantan, Pahang's capital, Bernama news agency previously reported.
In the 2018 general election, the late Datuk Seri Abu Bakar retained the Chini seat with a 4,622-vote majority, polling 10,027 votes to beat a PAS candidate who received 5,405 votes, and the PKR candidate who polled 1,065 votes.
The Chini by-election is the 11th by-election to be held since the 2018 national polls.