Pahang to hold by-election, the first in Malaysia since Covid-19 pandemic

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PEKAN - An Umno state leader in eastern Pahang state and two independent candidates will face-off in a by-election on July 4, the first poll in Malaysia since the coronavirus pandemic hit the country.

It is also the first by-election held under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government that came to power nearly four months ago and is led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. Umno is one of the members of the PN alliance.

The Chini state-assembly seat is a stronghold of Umno. The by-election is being 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 name of Najib's eldest son, Datuk Mohd Nizar Najib, was earlier floated as a possible candidate but was later dropped. Mr Nizar, 42, is the Youth chief of Umno's Pekan division led by his father.

The Chini Umno candidate Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41, is contesting under his Barisan Nasional coalition flag.

He will face businessman Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin, 64, and social activist/blogger Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, 49, local media reported.

Opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which contested the seat and lost in the May 2018 general election, had said it would not be contesting in the by-election, Bernama news agency reported on Saturday (June 20).

Mr Mohd Sharim is a second-generation Felda Chini settler and chairman of the youth council of Kuantan, Pahang's capital, the news agency said.

Umno and its ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) are working together in the by-election, as they did in the last few by-elections under the Muafakat Nasional (National Consensus) agreement.

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

The 10th by-election was held in the Kimanis parliamentary constituency in Sabah, where Umno-BN defended the seat against a Sabah party allied to then ruling coalition Pakatan Harapan.

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