Monday, May 18, 2009

BN to decide on Penang

KUALA LUMPUR - AFTER a month of speculation, Malaysia's Barisan Nasional (BN) decides on Monday whether it will contest the Penanti by-election in Penang.

The decision will be made after Prime Minister Najib Razak chairs his first BN Supreme Council meeting, with Penanti and the Perak political crisis expected to top the agenda.

His party has remained tight-lipped about the by-election since he first mooted the idea of BN skipping the poll last month - possibly the first time the ruling coalition would not contest a by-election.

Datuk Seri Najib's suggestion won approval from certain quarters of the BN, but drew strong remarks from former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who was adamant that the coalition should not let the opposition win the state seat without a fight.

A party insider told The Straits Times that the leaders have revealed little about their inclinations since, and are 'playing the cards very close to their chests'.

But BN component party Umno's Penang division is known to be keen on the contest, and now there are some signs suggesting that the party will join in the fray after all.

Numerous white canopies, which are synonymous with by-elections, have already sprung up in Penanti. The tents normally house police and security staff during polls.

News website Malaysiakini also reported that Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin and Wanita chief Shahrizat Jalil both visited the constituency last Friday, purportedly on a fact-finding tour to test the ground.

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