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Highest number of by-elections in history

Highest number of by-elections in history
Posted on 21 January 2011

All the by-elections were triggered by the deaths of the elected representatives, with the exception of Permatang Pauh, Penanti and Bukit Selambau.


The death of Merlimau state assemblyman Datuk Mohd Hidhir Abu Hassan will result in the country’s 15th by-election.

The number of by-elections since the general election in March 2008 is definitely the highest in the country’s history.

The police spent nearly RM40mil on the first five by-elections to maintain peace and security: RM2.8mil in Permatang Pauh, RM15.3mil in Kuala Terengganu, RM10.7mil (Bukit Gantang), RM6.4mil (Bukit Selambau) and RM4.6mil (Batang Ai).

Former Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Rahman, who served with the commission for 27 years prior to his retirement, said there had been “no more than a dozen” by-elections during a single term.

“We are only halfway through the term (of five years) and I can safely say it is the highest number of by-elections,” he told The Star.

All the by-elections were triggered by the deaths of the elected representatives, with the exception of Permatang Pauh, Penanti and Bukit Selambau.

On Wednesday, Selangor state assembly Speaker Datuk Teng Chang Khim declared the Port Klang state seat vacant, which is likely to lead to another by-election.

Port Klang assemblyman Badrul Hisham Abdullah is disputing the decision.

In Kedah, the Kota Seputih seat was declared vacant by the High Court in 2009 after state Speaker Datuk Dr Abdul Isa Ismail told the EC that Datuk Abu Hassan Sarif had failed to attend two consecutive meetings without leave.

The EC then declared the seat not vacant.

However, the High Court declared the seat vacant. Subsequently, the EC appealed the ruling, which is still pending.

All states have experienced at least one by-election, with the exception of Perlis, Pahang and the Federal Territories.

Abdul Rashid said the EC would have to hold a by-election within 60 days of the seat turning vacant.

However, a by-election need not be called if the seat falls vacant within two years before the term expires.

“The term’s expiry is five years from the first Dewan Rakyat session, and not from the date of the last polls,” stressed Abdul Rashid.

On the Port Klang seat, Abdul Rashid said the EC should carry out the by-election as the Speaker had already declared the seat vacant.

By-elections since March 2008
Parliament seats:

Sabah: Batu Sapi – Nov 4, 2010

Sarawak: Sibu – May 16, 2010

Selangor: Hulu Selangor – April 25, 2010

Perak: Bukit Gantang – April 7, 2009

Terengganu: Kuala Terengganu – Jan 17, 2009

Penang: Permatang Pauh – Aug 26, 2008

State seats:

Malacca: Merlimau – to be announced

Johor: Tenang –Jan 30, 2011

Kelantan: Galas – Nov 4, 2010

Negri Sembilan: Bagan Pinang – Oct 11, 2009

Penang: Permatang Pasir – Aug 25, 2009

Kelantan: Manek Urai – July 14, 2009

Penang: Penanti – May 31, 2009

Kedah: Bukit Selambau – April 7, 2009

Sarawak: Batang Ai – April 7, 2009

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