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'Tsunami' turns out to be a 'wave'

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After 10 days of gruelling campaigning, Sarawakians hit the ballot boxes today in the 10th state legislative assembly elections. There are a total of 213 candidates vying for 71 seats.

Although numerous minor opposition parties and Independents are in the fray, the main gladitorial combat is between the ruling BN and Pakatan Rakyat.

The campaign saw long-serving Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, in power for three decades, turning into Pakatan's main target while BN banked on its tried-and-tested 'development' card.

P azlan olitical observers are expecting, barring any widespread vote-rigging, Pakatan to make significant inroads this time round based on the anti-Taib factor alone.

The results of this polls would have far-reaching consequences - it will decide how long Taib will continue his rule, the date when the general elections will be held and whether Sarawak will see the beginning of a robust two-party system.

Taib Mahmud, who is battling for his seventh term, is leading the BN in the fight for all 71 seats.

Taib's PBB is contesting 35 seats, while BN component party SUPP is gunning for 19 the other partners, PRS and SPDP are is going for 9 and 8 respectively.

Meanwhile, PKR is contesting in 49 seats, Snap (26), DAP (15), PCM (6), PAS (5). A total of 41 candidates are contesting as Independents.

  

There will be straight fights in 27 constituencies, three-cornered fights in 23 constituencies, 17 (four-cornered), two (five-cornered) while two constituencies will face six-cornered fights.

NONE All eyes will be on 28 hot seats identified by Malaysiakini . Pakatan is set on denying BN its two-thirds majority by winning at least 24 seats.

The constituency with the largest number of voters is Pending (29,498 voters) while the least number of voters are in Ba'Kelalan (6,958).

Polling opens at 8am to close at 5.30pm. Unofficial results should begin trickling in at about 6pm. According to the Election Commission, the final results should be in by 8pm.

However, some polling stations in a number of rural constituencies will close as early as 11.30am because of the small number of voters. Unofficial results from these areas will be known much earlier. Helicopters are being for 15 voting centres.

LIVE REPORTS

8am: All polling stations open.

NONE The voters will cast their ballots at 1,748 the polling centres throughout the state which is the size of Peninsular Malaysia and polling would be carried out in stages as there are voters living in the interior.

Schools, longhouses and community halls have been turned into polling centres.

The Election Commission (EC) is expecting a voter turnout of 75%.

8.01am: Betong/Sri Aman - The weather is good in both Betong and Sri Aman divisions, about 120km east of Kuching, where many of the rural Iban-majority are located. Voters begin trickling into polling stations as early as 7.45am, 15 minutes before the official polling starts.

Seats to watch in both areas are Saribas, Lingga and Beting Maro (Malay/Melanau-majority), Layar (Iban-majority held by deputy chief minister Alfred Jabu), Krian, Simanggang, Batang Ai, Engkilili and Balai Ringin (all Iban-majority).

NONE 8.08am: Beting Maro - The Saribas River is rather busy with voters arriving and leaving via boats from villages across the river. In Sekolah Kebangsaan Pusa, the PAS tent received  rousing reception when voters flocked to check their voting streams.

Pusa is the biggest town in Beting Maro. The state seat is the only one that PAS is said to have a chance of winning. Over 90 percent of the electorate in the area are from that ethnic group.

8.10am: Sibu - With seven seats up for grabs in the Chinese-majority town of Sibu, this election has seen fierce a battle between SUPP and DAP for supremacy in six of them.

While it is already a foregone conclusion that Nangka will remain under PBB control, PKR is expected to trim their majority there.

NONE But in the other six, SUPP led by assistant minister and Bawang Assan incumbent Wong Soon Koh has to fight off a strong challenge in four seats - Bawang Assan, Dudong, Pelawan and Repok.

DAP appeared buoyed by exceedingly large turnouts in its ceramah in the last few days.

With Bukit Assek incumbent and Sarawak DAP chairperson Wong Ho Leng on the forefront of their campaign, the opposition party is hoping to emerge tonight with an overwhelming victory.

8.15am: Kuching - Drizzle and dark clouds are not keeping voters away with many mostly the elderly already streaming polling centres.

NONE All eyes will be on Chinese-majority seats Pending and Padungan in the city centre, along with suburban seats of Batu Kawah, Batu Lintang and Kota Sentosa, where PKR and DAP candidates have put up a tough fight against SUPP.

In downtown Malay-majority Satok, PBB stalwart Abang Johari Abang Openg is defending his seat against PKR newbie Ahmad Nazib Johari, who is expected to reduce the strongman's winning majority.

8.20am: Saribas - Several PKR campaigners, including Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, are trying hard to urge voters to enter the polling station SK Datuk Bandar Gebak directly instead of first going to a BN operation centre outside to check their voting details.

NONE Some voters, however, insist on going to the BN operation centre which provides free mineral water. PKR has not set up a ‘pondok panas’ at this polling station, which is banned by the Election Commission.

Unlike the carnival-like atmosphere in the peninsula, campaigners here are more subdued - there are no posters, banners or the shouting of slogans. 

8.35am: Piasau (Miri) - The weather is good in Miri, the second largest city in Sarawak which is seeing SUPP defending three seats - Piasau, Pujut and Senadin - all located in the town centre.

Party boss Dr George Chan casts a vote for himself at SMK St Columba, one of the polling centres for his Piasau state seat.

"I will vote for Barisan Nasional," he quips before disappearing into the secondary school which is serving as a polling centre.

NONE He also bumped into his opponent, Ling Sie Keong from DAP, who is visiting the polling centre. Ling, however, is not able to cast a vote for himself because he is a voter for Lambir, a state seat on the outskirt of Miri.

After casting his vote, Chan says he will put his trust in the people of Miri. "I has been with them for a long time. It is more important that we continue what we are doing and I am sure that they want us to continue."

Chan, who has been incumbent there since 1983, is fighting for his political survival in the wake of a strong ‘anti-Taib’ sentiment sweeping across most Sarawak cities.

Piasau is a Chinese-majority seat with a significant proportion of bumiputera voters (65% Chinese, 19% Malay/Melanau and 13% Iban).

8.45am: Bawang Assan (Sibu)

- At the Bawang Assan polling station of SJK Chung Hua, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong together with candidate Alice Lau greet the voters.

NONE "We think can win at this polling station, but we hope that the majority will be high enough," Lim tells Malaysiakini .

However, shortly after that, a female voter in her 40s came out from the polling station, shook hands with Lim and Lau's before saying: "Thank you very much, now leave us alone."

Bawang Assan is a Chinese-majority seat, with approximately 65% Chinese, 30% Iban and 5% Malay-Melanau voters.

8.52am: Satok (Kuching) - A voter shows a slip with her name and IC number printed alongside a BN logo to an Election Commission officer at the gate of SK Merpati Jepang in Satok.

The officer stuffs the slip back into her bag and says, "Don't show this. We only need to see your IC."

8.58am: Saribas (near Kuching) - It starts to drizzle when PKR candidate Abang Zulkifli Abang Engkeh arrives at the SK Datuk Bandar Debak polling station.

Wearing a blue jacket, the politician shakes hands with voters before proceeding to a classroom to cast his vote.

"I'm full of confidence today. If compared with previous elections, this is the most well-prepared campaign by PKR," he tells Malaysiakini after voting.

NONE Abang Zulkifli (right) had fallen twice before - in the 2004 general election and 2006 state election.

Despite the slight rain, voters continue to stream into the polling station, forming long queues in front of the row of classrooms.

Saribas is a Malay-majority rural seat that was categorised as a 'black' area by the BN. It is contested by novice Mohd Razi Sitam (BN-PBB) and Abang Zulkifli (PKR), his second try at capturing the seat.

Abang Zulkifli was felled in last state polls by the wafer-thin majority of 94 votes.

NONE 9.02am:  Satok (Kuching) - PBB vice-president Adenan Satem (left) votes in SK Merpati Jepang in Satok without much fanfare. Despite many PBB hotshots voting here, the atmosphere is calm and quiet with no supporters cheering either side.

Locals say that this is usual for Satok and much of Sarawak.

PKR candidate Ahmad Nazib Johari is also voting here but at a neighbouring polling centre, but dropped by for a visit. He is seen shaking hands with Adenan Satem.

9.10am:

Pending (Kuching) - Gloomy skies have lifted in Kuching and voters are turning out in force, evidenced by the slowing down of traffic at every school used as a polling centre.

Over at SK St Francis Primary School, BN candidate for Pending Dr Sim Kui Hian voted at 8.15am.

The Pending incumbent Violet Yong will be casting her ballot at the Kenyalang People's Centre soon.

azlan Sim, a highly decorated cardiologist, is considered the BN's best bet to wrest a seat from opposition-held territory.

He is also considered to have run the most sophisticated campaign among SUPP candidates.

Yong, who is defending her seat, appears upbeat.

“Thank God for the good weather. I’ve visited several PC (polling centres) and the turnout appears good. Looks like a good sign. I expect a major breakthrough tonight,” she says.

9.15am: Kota Sentosa (Kuching) - In one of the polling centres in Kota Sentosa, many voters are streaming in and checking their registration details with Election Commission officers.

Some of the voters are seen wearing ‘1Malaysia’ T-shirts with a big 1Malaysia logo embossed on the back.

NONE The opposition has complained about this since the Galas by-election in Kelantan, arguing that voters are being paid to wear the T-shirt. However, the EC has waved off the protest.

Kota Sentosa is a DAP stronghold in Kuching. However, incumbent Chong Chieng Jen (right) has cried foul over the sudden increase of 1,000 postal votes in his seat. He is facing challenger Alfred Yap from the SUPP.

9.20am: Sibu - Still at SJK Chung Hua, BN-SUPP Bawang Assan candidate Wong Soon Koh casts his ballot.

When asked by media on his chances, Wong remains confident of beating his rival, Alice Lau.

The turnout rate for the polling centre is good, a majority of them elderly.

An 85-year-old man Tiong King Sing, who can barely walk and who has eyesight problems, insists on casting his ballot.

“I act according to the federal constitution, to fulfil my responsibility as a citizen,” he says.

Due to his condition, the EC allows his nephew, who drove him to the polling station, to drive into the school compound.

9.25am: Saribas (near Kuching) - The drizzle gives way to bright sun.

Failing to stop the voters from entering the BN operation centre opposite the polling station which provides free drinks, PKR campaigners adopt the same tactic.

PKR Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin tells Malaysiakini that BN campaigners are misleading the voters by telling them that the BN operation centre is set up by government and voters should go there to check their voting details first before entering the polling station.

"This is not right. According to election rules, such a ‘pondok panas’ is prohibited. They (BN campaigners) are asking the voters to do double work."

NONE She has complained to the head of the polling centre with latter promising to take  take necessary action. However, the BN operation centre is still open.

9.27 am: Bawang Assan (Sibu) - SUPP strongman Wong Soon Koh (centre in blue) arrives at the SJK Chung Hua polling centre with his wife, Pauline Leong, to vote.

Wong and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng meet and engage in a little chat near the school's main entrance.

"If you come to Penang, I'll treat you fried kuey teow," says Lim. Wong smiles and shakes the Penang CM’s hand.

NONE 9.31am: Satok (Kuching) - PKR Satok candidate Ahmad Nazib (right) seems a bit nervous but is all smiles when met by reporters.

"I can see there is a lot of joy on this polling day. Thirty years is enough of one man's rule," he said.

Another voter Muhammad, 35, said that CM Taib Mahmud was on his mind when he cast his vote.

"It's true that we want change," he said when approached.

9.36am: hasbeemasputra A tweet from Hasbee Abu Bakar says “Mafrel president Syed Hussain also barred frm entering #Sarawak yesterday”.

9.39am:   Beting Maro - PAS is confident of a victory in the contest for the seat, says Kelantan Agriculture exco Che Abdullah Mat Nawi.

"Now the voters in Beting Maro can no longer be bought," he tells Malaysiakini at a market next to SK Pusa.

Pusa, is the second largest voting district with over 2,600 voters after Beladin.

His confidence seems bolstered by the lacklustre efforts of PBB campaigners, who are conspicucous by their absence around the polling centre. PAS banners dominate the area, unlike elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the local PBB branch chief tells Malaysiakini that for the first time, the BN may lose Beting Maro, giving PAS its maiden seat in Sarawak.

"I think that PAS will win big. Everyone wants change. I can't do much (to reverse it), I have already promised to vote for BN," he says, adding that he is disappointed with choice of the BN candidate for the seat.

9.42am: Through its official Twitter, PKR urges all its polling agents to protest against voters with green colour identity card as they are permanent residents who don’t enjoy voting rights.

NONE 9.45am: Miri -The BN set up last-minute billboards all over the town late last night to urge voters to “Retain the Deputy Chief Minister in Miri".

They are referring to DCM Dr George Chan, who is defending his Piasau seat for the eighth time.

9.45am: Sibu - As voting goes into full swing, many roads in the small town of Sibu are already choked with traffic on almost all major roads.

But while the polling centre in Bawang Assan is bustling with activity, the one for Dudong in the polling centre of SMK Chung Hua is relatively quiet, with only DAP candidate Yap Hoi Liong canvassing votes.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng soon arrives at the polling centre as well.

When asked of his chances, Yap says that is is “50-50".

“My chances lie with the rakyat. It all depends on the turnout. Shaking hands with voters, I think the response is quite good,” he told Malaysiakini.

Here, Yap faces Tiong Thai King, a SUPP heavyweight and brother of the Rimbunan Hijau tycoon, in a straight fight.

With a sizeable number of Iban voters here and BN’s strategic house-to-house campaigning, it will remain to be an uphill battle for DAP for this state seat.

9.50am: Bawang Assan (Sibu) - Bawang Assan incumbent Wong Soon Koh casts his ballot.

NONE on his chances, he tells   journalists,that he is confident of beating his rival, Alice Lau.

The voter turnout rate for the polling centre is good, with the majority being the elderly.

Tiong King Sing, 85, who can barely walk and partially blind, insists on voting.

"I’m fulfilling my duty as a responsible citizen," he says.

Because of his condition, EC officials allowed his nephew, who ferried Tiong to the polling station, to drive into the school compound.

9.50am: Kota Sentosa - At one of the polling stations in Kota Sentosa where some voters were found carrying a paper with the BN logo and BN candidate Alfred Yap’s picture.

They were barred from entering the polling stream and redirected to the EC counter to check their voting details.

This has caused a long queue at the EC counter where many voters had to stand under the hot sun.

One of the voters tells reporters that they received the paper from BN when registering with the rulling party and did not know that the party logos cannot be brought into polling centres.

DAP candidate for Kota Sentosa Chong Chieng Jen later complains to an EC officer and the latter orders his staff to tear the BN logo from the paper before the voters enter the polling station.

9.54am: Pending (Kuching) - Dr Sim Kui Hian's campaign team appears to be looking for some last-minute sympathy, based on the sudden appearance constituency-wide of tiny posters urging voters to "Save Kui Hian".

9.55am: Through its official Twitter, PKR urges all its polling agents to protest against voters with green colour identity cards as they are permanent residents without voting rights.

9.59am: Sibu At the SJK Chung Hua, the polling centre for Bawang Assan, the sight of DAP strong supporter and member Tow Ah Mei acting strangely by slamming  the SUPP for its “betrayal” draws the public’s attention.

NONE Tow (left) claims she has been a party member for over twenty years.

“I am 70 years old and yet I am healthy and passionate,” she tells Malaysiakini . She later turns to the bystanders and lectures them.

“I am older than you, you guys should have more passion. I even stopped my vegetarian food stall business to come here to support, I want to see white hair’s men dumped into the Rejang river,” she says.

She proudly shows off her specially-tailored white shirt with rockets printed on it, which her friend made for her 20 years back.

“I think my hands are more muscular and powerful than George Chan's, because I am younger than him by five years,” she says, a sly dig at re Chan's advertisement which showed off his muscular arm.

10am: Kuching - A man bursts out in anger after being informed  that he is at the wrong polling centre. Many have grumbled that they have endured long lines at different polling centres, only to be sent elsewhere.

Another man asks polling agents, as he hands over his IC: “There’s a chip in the card so why can’t you just scan it instead of doing this all manually?”

10.01am: Satok (Kuching): A man bursts into anger after he is told that he is at the wrong polling centre. Many have grumbled that they have endured long lines at different polling centres to be sent here, and the opposite is happening to this man.

Another man asks polling agents as he hands over his IC: "There's a chip in the card so why can't you just scan it instead of doing this all manually?"

azlan 10.05am: Sibu - As voting gets into full swing, many roads in the small town of Sibu are choked with traffic on almost all major roads.

But while the polling centre in Bawang Assan is bustling with activity, the one for Dudong in SMK Chung Hua is relatively quiet with only DAP candidate Yap Hoi Liong canvassing votes.

Penang CM Lim Guan Eng soon arrives at the polling centre as well.

When asked on his chances, Yap says, "50-50". "It all depends on the turnout," he tells Malaysiakini .

Here, Yap faces SUPP heavyweight and brother of Rimbunan Hijau tycoon, Tiong Thai King, in a straight fight.

With a sizeable number of Iban voters here and the BN's strategic house-to-house campaigning, it remains an uphill battle for DAP in this constituency.

10.22am:  Saribas (near Kuching) - A police officer and an EC officer who declined to be named explain that the BN operation centre opposite the polling station in SK Datuk Bandar Debak, which assists voters to check their voting details, is not an offence as it is outside the 50m radius.

"It is also not a 'pondok panas' because they have their own premise," the Chinese police officer says.

The operation centre is a community hall. It also provides free drinks to all voters checking their voting details there.

However, PKR campaigners argue that the operation centre  also issues paper slips with the BN logo to voters to bring into the polling centre, which they claim is prohibited.

10.25am: Pujut (Miri) - DAP Pujut candidate Fong Pau Teck votes in SMK Pei Min, one of the polling centres in the Chinese-majority seat.

After casting his ballot, Fong protests against BN polling agents jotting down on a piece of paper the electoral roll number of the voters.

NONE "This is against Election Act," he says.

According to Fong, the SUPP polling agents would take the details with them when they change shifts.

"They will then cross check with the electoral rolls outside and make phone calls to those voters who have not come out to vote.

"This may intimidate the voters as they would surprised how SUPP could tell that they have yet to vote."

He also revealed that he has protested similar practice in other polling centres and the polling officer had torn up the notes upon his request.

"I hope everyone will obey the Election Law."

Fong says he is confident about winning, adding that he had slept soundly last night.

But, he refused to reveal his personal assessment of the situation. "Everyone will know when the results come out. I’ve faith in the voters of Miri."

10.30am: Sibu - Dudong candidate for DAP Yap Hoi Liong votes in his own constituency in the SK Bandaran Sibu No. 2.

NONE When asked who he voted for, he jokingly says, “My undi is secret, you know. By asking me, you have committed an election offence.”

Some of the voters are clothed in red in a subtle show of  support for  the DAP, as urged by the party at  its ceramah yesterday.

Meanwhile, as Yap was coming out, he bumps into his contender from SUPP, Tiong Thai King, who is also the Lanang MP.

They both then tour the polling centre, shaking hands with voters.

But when approached by Malaysiakini later, Tiong refuses to speak to the reporter.

10.36am:   Saribas - SJK Chung Hua, a polling station with only one stream to accommodate 466 voters, does not look like a polling station at all because of the total absence of party campaigners.  Very few people who come here to vote.

According to the EC officer here, 165 out of 466  had cast their votes upto 10am, a around 30 percent turnout rate.

10.40pm: Satok (Kuching) - In Satok, where PBB veteran Abang Johari Abang Openg is taking on PKR newbie Ahmad Nazib Johari, a voter who only wants to be known as Rowena is backing the veteran.

"I think it's good to have some opposition or else the government will do whatever they want.

NONE "Nazib has fresh ideas but if he wins he won't have the funds to develop Satok so my vote goes to Abang Johari," she said.

She also says that she is wary of voting for Pakatan as she fears that the native land in Satok will be taken over like Kampung Buah Pala in Penang.

"Anyway, if we keep changing governments, we won't have continuity. Sarawak is developing well, and I don't think the opposition can do any better," she said after casting her vote at SK Merpati Jepang.

Others met say that there’s no much of a contest here.

"We already know who will win," one man said, refusing, however, to disclose who the expected winner will be.

Meanwhile, the scorching day is bringing in brisk business to a makeshift stall outside of the SK Merpati Jepang polling centre in Satok.

They have run out of drinks and are rushing to make more Air Kelapa Mawar.

NONE 10.45pm Beting Maro - Many polling centres here have been crowded since early morning. Voters are coming in early, fearing bad weather in the evening.

A Malaysiakini reporter finds Kg Hilir Pusa, Kg Tengah Pusa and SK Kalok near the town of Pusa packed since early morning.

At these places, party workers as seen in the peninsula are hardly present.

10.45am: Simanggang (Sri Aman) - A voter contacts Malaysiakini to says that a BN campaign worker had come to his house to help him check his voting stream. The worker also gave him RM20.

10.45am: Repok - A DAP representative tells Malaysiakini that DAP Sarikei branch had received some complaints about a mysterious bus which appeared earlier at Bulat polling station.

The source, who refuses to be named, says another complaint received is that some strangers had marked the ballot papers for elderly.

Repok, an hour's drive from Sibu town, is another hot seat.

The seat is seeing a tough fight between BN-SUPP’s David Teng and DAP’s Wong Hua She.

David Teng is the seven-term incumbent state assemblyperson, who had served  for a 32-year stretch.

Teng is reported to have been  named by party president George Chan as one of his four possible successors.

Repok is a majority Chinese area with 77% Chinese, and 17% Iban and 5.5% Malay Melanau voters.

The last two state elections saw the Teng's majority votes sliced from 5,769 votes to 576 votes.

10.46am: Unofficial. The percentage of people who have cast their ballots at 10am: N18 Tebedu - 60% , N21 Simunjan - 60%.

10.48am: A tweet from RT @imokman: “just heard from a PACA, SPR officer in charge of her station was wearing BN t-shirt this am, changed into another t-shirt later”.

10.48am: Dudong (Sibu) - Dudong candidate for DAP Yap Hoi Liong votes in his own constituency in the SK Bandaran Sibu No 2.

When asked who he voted for, he jokingly said: "My ‘undi’ is secret, you know. By asking me, you have committed an election offence."

NONE Some of the voters wear red as a subtle show of support for the DAP.

Meanwhile, as Yap comes out, he spots his SUPP contender, Tiong Thai King, who is also the Lanang MP.

Both of them then tour the polling centre, shaking hands with voters.

When approached by Malaysiakini later, Tiong turns away.

10.50am: Kuching - A group of people stationed in SMK Pending Kuching, a polling station in Pending, are seen ticking off people’s name and distributing mineral water to voters.

Apparently they are SUPP campaigners for Pending candidate Dr Sim Kui Hian, as one of them is wearing a tee shirt with a heart logo on the back.

Sim, a former cardiologist, is using the heart logo as his campaign trademark.

When approached by reporters, one of them says they are ticking off the people’s name because they want to “wait for my friends”.

Asked whether the people in the list can get the mineral water, she flashes a smile but refuses to answer.

An EC officer later asks them to leave the polling centre after reporters inform of him of their presence.

One of the campaigners was heard telling his friend, “These reporters are all opposition party”, before leaving.

This angers the reporters and an exchange of words breaks out between the two sides.

A few minutes later, Sim visits the polling station and is asked about the incident.

He apologises to reporters on behalf of his campaigner who had caused the ruckus.

10.56am: Simanggang - DAP complains to police and the EC that BN has set up a checking counter (pondok panas) inside the compound of polling station SK Sri Aman Kampung Muhibbah, and BN banners within the 50m radius.

NONE According to DAP leader Teresa Kok (right in photo) who filed the complaint, BN agreed to shift their ‘pondok panas’ outside the prohibited  zone and take down their banners.

Simanggang is an Iban-majority seat over which DAP's Leon Donald and SUPP's Francis Harden are locked in direct fight. It encompasses the quiet town of Sri Aman and is considered a 'grey'  area for the BN.

11.05am:

Beting Maro - Most polling centres in this seat were busy since early morning as voters fear the onset of bad weather later in the day.

However, almost no campaigners were seen on the ground, in contrast to election day in the peninsula. The situation appears quiet and calm.

11.25am: Padungan (Kuching) - A minor controversy occurred at Song Kheng Hai primary school after voters complained that the ballot slips contained a signature.

The voters are worried that they constitute spoilt votes.

DAP campaign worker Johnny Ng said that this issue has been resolved. He said that the presiding officer had signed some of slips by mistake.

"He was using an old guidelines. The new one states that no signature is required," said Ng.

He said that the presiding officer had promised that objections against the signed ballots would not be entertained during counting.

The school is a polling centre for the Padungan constituency being battled over by incumbent Dominique Ng (Independent), Wong King Wei (DAP) and Sim Kiang Chion (BN).

11.29am: Satok (Kuching) - An altercation breaks out in the SK Merpati Jepang when PKR agents enter the polling centre to complain to the Election Commission that people were going into the polling centre through unauthorised entrances.

They also ask the police officer why a man wearing a BN T-shirt had been allowed into the centre.

NONE They are, however, stopped by BN deputy minister Fadillah Yusof (left in photo) , who tries to drag them away, prompting one them to tell him to stop manhandling him.

"Stop pushing me, respect the law!" said the man.

Fadillah subsequently grabbed the man’s EC pass, who then urged the media to take photos of the card.

A shouting match ensued, with a BN supporter ticking off the PKR man, saying "You are disrespecting the YB!"

He is stopped by others who tell him,"This is a polling centre not a boxing ring."

11.30am: Beting Maro - PAS candidate Abang Ahmad Kerdee Abang Masagus visits the SJKC Chung Hua, the polling centre with the most voters, 1,000.

Met by reporters, he seemed confident after meeting Beladin folk.

“The majority doesn't matter, as long as we win,” he says, when asked.

He is greeted by voters showing the peace sign, signifying number two, his is the second name on the ballot for the seat.

11.30am: Sibu - DAP Bawang Assan candidate Alice Lau complains that the constituency's returning officer Wong See Meng openly looked at how the voters marked their ballots.

She says the incidents happened in SJK Chung Hua, the biggest polling station, serving  obnserves 6,000 voters.

“Voters complained to the DAP polling agent that Wong did that,” she says.

“I also received complaints that the IC for senior citizens had been mixed up, that some were not able to get their ballot papers, and a man brought six to seven ICs, claiming to help the elderly to register,” Lau tells Malaysiakini .

Wong later denies that he had  done so.

“The reason for me....was to look after the elder voters' welfare, in case they fell,” he tells Malaysiakini .

“No, I have no interest at all,” he says, flinging up both hands up.

Lau also complains to Wong that SUPP supporters are stationed within 50 metres.

11.35pm: Satok (Kuching) - Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud casts his vote at SK Merpati Jepang, minutes after an altercation between PBB leaders and PKR agents is broken up.

NONE He arrives in a silver Rolls Royce and says he is upbeat about BN's chances today.

Asked about predictions that the BN will lose up to 30 seats, he says: "I will prove them wrong."

He also deflects a question about him being superstitious,  adding that the timing of the polls is perfect.

As Taib leaves, sent off by BN Satok candidate and PBB deputy chief Abang Johari Abang Openg, a handful of PKR agents yell out "Reformasi!"

NONE Meanwhile, PBB's Fadillah Yusof said that PKR agents are acting in ignorance as people are using different entrances because different voting streams cast the ballot at different parts of the complex - some at the primary school, some at the secondary.

PBB supporters tell PKR agents to "balik semenanjung". Police persuade the crowd grown to about 50 people to move at least 50 meters from the polling centre.

The incident interrupts an otherwise calm and quiet polling day in Satok.

11.35am: Beting Maro - PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hasan says he is confident that PAS has good potential to win big at Beting Maro and two other seats as well.

“Even if we don’t win, at least the number of votes (for us) will rise,” he says when met at Kampung Hilir, Pusa.

11.53am: Kuching - Police have deployed about five light strike force anti -riot squad personnel at Satok where an altercation had erupted at the SK Merpati Jepang polling station earlier.

A police officer is seen losing his cool, yelling at children hanging around their house in front of the polling centre to go inside.

11.54am: Piasau (Miri) - Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Peter Chin greets voters at SJK(C) Chung Hua Lutong, one of the polling centres in this Miri seat.

It is just located opposite the Petronas office, which boasts a large number of employees in the town.

When approached, the SUPP Miri MP said he is still unsure about the voters' sentiment.

"Maybe it will be clearer at this afternoon."

He also bumps into DAP’s Kota Kinabalu MP Hiew King Cheu, who visits SJK(C) Chung Hua Lutong.

Dozens of SUPP supporters are standing outside the polling centre, sheltering under the bus stop, while a DAP supporter is waving a small “Yes!” flag chanting “Vote for change” 100 metres away.

12noon: Saribas - Twelve out of 22 polling stations in this rural seat close at noon, especially those p set up in longhouse with a small number of  voters.

Counting of ballots will proceed soon.

NONE 12noon: Sibu - Still at SJK Chung Hua, the polling station for Bawang Assan, a DAP member and voter, Ting Yeu Hua, openly expresses his dislike for incumbent Sarawak CM Abdul Taib Mahmud.

“I want him down, I have nothing to fear by saying this, I already suffer from lung cancer, I want a better future for my children,” he says.

Ting, who has Thai Buddhist symbols tattooed all over his body, says they are meant to protect him.

12.10pm: Bukit Saban - Twenty-nine out of 34 polling stations in this Iban-majority seat close at 12pm.

All polling stations located in the longhouses ceased operating between 11am and 12pm. Ballot counting  is underway.

Bukit Saban, a rural seat under the Betong parliamentary constituency , is seeing a three-way fight among incumbent Robert Lawson Chuat (BN-PBB), Dayrell Walter Entrie (Snap) and Edward Jerah (PKR).

At the SK Suri polling station, which only has a total of 265 voters, "BN" is the most frequently used word heard in the classroom where the counting is going on.

"PKR" is heard once in a while, but "Snap" is hardly mentioned.

The turnout for this polling station is 79 percent of 210 voters.

12.25pm: Satok (Kuching) - Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin visits Satok accompanied by BN incumbent candidate Abang Johari Abang Openg. Accompanying him are about 20 people, including the lot who told PKR agents to " balik semenanjung " earlier.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein paid the downtown Malay majority constituency a visit in the morning.

Abang Johari won for then seventh time in 2006 with a majority of under 3,000 votes.

12.30pm: Ba'Kelalan - Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian, who is also the candidate for Ba'Kelalan, tells Malaysiakini that the voting process  is proceeding smoothly in this hilly area, bordering  Indonesia’s Kalimantan.

According to him, all polling stations in there will close by 1pm the latest in this state seat which has 6,958 voters. The unofficial results will be known after 2pm.

12.46am: A total of 21.71% or 233,134 voters have cast their ballots as at noon, according to the Election Commission.

1.00pm Government-owned Chinese radio station Ai FM reports approximately 40% voters have exercised their franchise.  

1.40pm: Miri DAP national youth chief Anthony Loke, who is stationed here, confirmed that the unofficial young voters’ turnout rate in two DAP seats of Pujut and Piasau was only 40% as at 12pm, lower compared to  their seniors.

NONE “We have sent smses to locals asking them to vote,” he said in a text message to Malaysiakini .

1.56pm: Kuching (Batu Lintang) An electric plug at the Maksab polling centre emits smoke, prompting the Election Commission to close the polling centre temporarily.

A fire engine is spotted just leaving the centre which caters to 559 voters. It is expected that it will re-open in the next half an hour. Polling agents estimate that about half of the voters have cast their ballot papers. 

2.10pm: Miri PKR Hulu Selangor councillor Chua Yee Ling, who is stationed in Senadin, tells Malaysiakini that an SPR clerk in SK Kuala Baram 2 polling centre was caught distributing BN leaflets to voters at the counter.

She says they have snapped a photo of the incident.

“We and the candidate Dr Michael Teo Yu Keng are now rushing to the scene to lodge a complaint.”

She also adds that the incident happened around an hour ago.

2.16pm: Beting Maro Mohammad Izan Yaakob, a PAS election worker from Machang, Kelantan, died suddenly while he was chatting with other staff at the PAS operations room near Pusa.

His body will be flown to Kelantan today. The PAS candidate is coming from his mother’s house in Spaoh, about 30km away, to pay his last respects.

2.20pm: Sarikei Incumbent DAP Meradong candidate Ting Tze Fui tells Malaysiakini that his party has lodged a police report over complaints of vote-buying at a restaurant near Bintangor town.

“We received complaints that 40 to 50 people had gathered at the second floor of a restaurant, to collect RM100,” she says.

Ting has lodged the at 1pm at the Bintangor police station.

“The police have begun investigations,” she says.

Meradong, a 45- minute drive away from Sibu, is seeing a tough fight between Ting and BN-SUPP’s Ling Kie King.

Ling, a local-born, is a spare parts businessman, had been away from Meradong for decades.

Ting first won the seat with a majority of 3,578 votes in a five-cornered-fight back in 2006.

A rumour had spread about SPDP and a Miri tycoon backing Ling, with the DAP describing them as “crocodiles”.

Ling has dismissed all the allegations. However, he admits he plans to bring investment from Miri.

The ethnic breakdown of the Meradong electorate is approximately 60% Chinese and 30% Iban.

Meradong DAP had earlier claimed the Chinese composition had dropped from 57.3% to 38.59%.

DAP has also complained that the BN in the past five years had shifted a large number of Dayak voters into Meradong.

3pm: Sibu DAP Pelawan candidate David Wong also alleges a vote-buying incident at Bahagia Jaya, an Iban and Malay semi-rural area, where over a thousand are  set to cast their ballots today.

“I was told that people were queuing up to get money, but I didn’t call the police,” he says, adding the effort would be futile as it is hard to get proof.

Pelawan is basically a Chinese-majority urban area with 89% Chinese,7% Malay and 4% Iban.

Three-term BN-SUPP Pelawan candidate Vincent Goh Chung Siong won with a convincing majority of 8,445 votes in 2001, but this plunged to 263 in 2006.

During the Sibu by-election last year, the BN-SUPP candidate lost by 5,600 votes.

It’s strongly speculated that BN might lose this seat.

3.40pm: In a tweet, Lim Kit Siang says, “Flew into Kuching from Sibu 4final phase g/e. Not only candidates but all pol leaders on tenterhooks as outcome is wide open”.

4.05pm: DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng says they can feel the change in urban areas where the strong crowds at Pakatan ceramah since the first day of the campaign has turned into a big victory for the opposition.

“If BN dares to cheat, then they are going against the people’s will for change,” he tells Malaysiakini in a phone interview.

He also urges the federal government to boost Sarawak's the oil royalty from the current 5 percent to 20 percent, which means a RM6 billion increase for the Land of the Hornbills.

“Sarawak has a lot of resources,Sarawakians deserve this.”

4.11pm: Beting Maro The body of PAS election worker Mohammad Izan Yaakob is brought from Pusa town to the nearest hospital in Betong, nearly 50km away.

4.45pm: PKR deputy president Azmin Ali, in replying to Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin’s allegation that opposition leader and PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim had left Sarawak to either London or the United States, says Anwar has been travelling all over the world every other week.

Azmin says Anwar had to cancel a speaking engagement in the United States last week. This speaking engagement in London is so important that Anwar left last night and he would be back soon, says Azmin.

4.45pm: Kuching Dark clouds loom over the city as polls draw to a close.

Except for a scuffle this morning in Satok and fears of a fire after smoke was spotted at a polling centre in Batu Lintang, the usually laid-back capital of Sarawak has retained its calm persona despite the election.

4.50pm: Saribas PKR candidate Abang Zulkifli Abang Engkeh has conceded defeat.

“As a politician, we will continue to be in politics. This defeat will not dampen my spirit to continue struggle,” he tells Malaysiakini at PKR’s operations centre in Debak when unofficial results obtained by the party show BN is leading with an over 1,200 majority.

This is his third time contesting and second attempt to wrest Saribas. He was defeated in the last state polls by a 94-vote majority, making this Malay-majority rural seat a highly contested constituency in this election.

“The main factor is money and the secondary factor is the new candidate,” he says, referring to BN”s debutant Muhammad Razi Sitam.

5pm: Polling closes in all areas and counting begins .

BN retains two-thirds, SUPP boss defeated

PHOTO GALLERY

VIDEO: Taib Mahmud irked when quizzed on 'superstition'

VIDEO: Scuffle at Satok

VIDEO: Checking station inside zon larangan berkempen

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