By Athi Shankar
GEORGE TOWN: Contrary to widespread anticipation, the Bukit Gelugor PKR division election process on Sunday was admirably smooth, free and fair, unlike its neighbouring Bayan Baru division polls last week.
The party election steering committee headed by Molly Cheah and election coordinating team led by Abd Hamid Yussof were praised for ensuring a smooth flowing polling day.
“Albeit minor arguments and differences of opinions on certain issues, I am happy that today’s election did not see a repeat of Bayan Baru,” the newly elected division chairman Lim Boo Chang told a post-victory press conference.
Lim, who dedicated his victory to his determined and hardworking election team, praised Abd Hamid’s team carrying out the task in independent and impartial manner.
Bayan Baru election, which was won by Pantai Jerejak assemblyman Sim Tze Tzin’s Team Reformis, was marred by alleged electoral malpractises, including vote-rigging, cheating, biasness of election duty officers.
The defeated Team Rakyat, helmed by M Ngnanasegaran, has already filed several complaints to Molly Cheah’s committee seeking a re-election.
In the hotly contested Bukit Gelugor polls, Penang Island Municipal (MPPP) councillor Lim crushed Batu Uban state assemblyman S Raveentharan to become to the new chairman.
Lawyer Lim’s Team Progresif also clean swept all positions up for grabs in the division polls routing candidates from incumbent chairman Raveentharan’s Team Berjiwa Rakyat.
Former Gerakan and MCA elected representative Lim secured 309 votes for 133-majority win to oust incumbent Raveentharan, also a lawyer, who got 176 votes.
For the deputy chairman post, Lim’s running-mate Roslan Ramansah garnered 300 votes to defeat Raveentharan's ally Johan Johari, the outgoing secretary, who got 188.
In the vice-chairman clash, outgoing division permanent chairman K Asokan from Lim’s camp secured 304 votes to triumph over Cheah Peng Guan’s 182 votes.
Team Progressif’s Shahul Hamid Abdul Kader won the Youth chief position securing 112 votes against direct rival Muhammed Annaruddin Akbar Ali’s 59 votes.
In the women chief contest, Cheryl Chew Hong Wah got 91 votes to win over Raveentharan team’s Jurinah Hassan, who received 60 votes.
Bukit Gelugor division has 1,790 eligible members, but nearly 500 turned up to vote at the Taman Tun Sardon market complex in Gelugor.
Zaid for deputy
Lim immediately offered an olive branch to his rival Raveentharan, calling on all division grassroots leaders and members to close ranks and work together to face the next general election.
Referring to the heated and mud-slinging pre-election campaign, he called on all to “let bygones be bygones.”
“Today I can be the winner, tomorrow I can the loser.
“That’s politics,” said Lim, who joined PKR from MCA after the 2008 general election.
Lim was formerly Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Keramat state representative and Gerakan national youth chief.
Raveentharan suggested his defeat could be a blessing in disguise, giving him more time to concentrate in his constituency works.
“I have been relieved off my duties as division chairman.
"I can spend more time now with Batu Uban constituents,” said politician-cum-lawyer.
He said he was carrying no grudge or hard feelings against his rival because he took the contest in brotherhood spirit.
A PKR deputy secretary-general, Raveentharan’s defeat cast doubts over his candidature for re-election in Batu Uban constituency in the next general election.
Earlier during the division annual general meeting, members nominated Wan Azizah Wan Ismail for the presidency and Zaid Ibrahim for the deputy president post.
Azmin Ali, state PKR chief Mansor Othman, Nurul Izzah Anwar were nominated for the vice-presidency.