Election Commission (EC) chairperson Abdul Aziz Yusoff said today the EC took a shorter time to set the date for the Balingian state by-election in Sarawak compared with the Kajang by-election because it had anticipated the seat being vacated for more than a month beforehand.
Both by-elections were caused by the elected representatives resigning from their positions - Lee Chin Cheh in Kajang and Abdul Taib Mahmud in Balingian, but the EC left a gap of well over a month when it announced in early February that the Kajang by-election would take place on March 23.
In contrast, the EC left less than two weeks’ gap from its announcement today to the nomination date for Balingian polls, and just over three weeks for the voting.
“Kajang caught us by surprise. All the state election directors did not anticipate a by-election for two or three years. We were busy with the consttituency redelineation,” Aziz said.
“But Balingian was early because knew about it more than a month before. So our election officers in Sarawak were well-prepared. There is no other reason for this difference.”
Aziz admitted that the EC would have preferred to conduct both the Kajang and Balingian polls simultaneously, but could not do so due to technical constraints and a short time window.
The Kajang by-election is seen as engineered by PKR to enable party supremo Anwar Ibrahim to contest there and subsequently, replace Abdul Khalid Ibrahim as Selangor menteri besar.
However, the Balingian by election was caused by Taib vacating his seat so that he would be eligible to become the governor of Sarawak from March 1.
Taib resigned as chief minister and state assemblyperson on Feb 28, after naming his former brother-in-law Adenan Satem as the next chief minister.