GEORGETOWN, May 24 – When MCA announced its decision not to stand in the Bukit Gelugor by-election against DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh Deo, the son of former Member of Parliament Karpal Singh, many had thought it was going to be an easy win for Ramkarpal. Karpal was killed in a fatal road accident on April 17, paving way for the by-election. The candidature of Ramkarpal was announced by DAP on May 10, hours before MCA held a press conference to announce its decision. However, three other individuals, have announced their intention to vie for the seat.

One is Parti Cinta Malaysia vice-president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan. He used to be in Gerakan until a falling out with former Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon. Two other Independent candidates joining the fray seem to add colour and punctuate the otherwise dull by-election campaign period with some comic relief. They appear to be giving Ramkarpal a run for his money with Ramkarpal even saying he was not that confident of winning. Well, at least in the beginning. Ramkarpal seems to be all out campaigning back to back from as early as 7am on his daily walkabouts and nightly ceramah, covering all three areas falling under Bukit Gelugor.

Huan seems to be trailing behind almost closely albeit in a more laidback manner sans ceramah. The other two candidates, Muhamed Nabi Bux Mohd Nabi Sathar, 63 and lawyer Abu Backer Sideck Md Zan, 46, appear to have a mind of their own. Both kicked off their campaigning slowly and the duo have taken their own sweet time in announcing their manifesto; Nabi Bux was a few days ahead of Abu Backer, going around campaigning trying to “sell” the idea of the implementation of hudud law in Penang by 2020. During a walkabout in Taman Tun Sardon wet market last week, a non-Muslim trader wore a disgusted look on her face when Nabi Bux tried to explain to her about hudud law.

She made a remark in Hokkien about his strategy being suicidal and was heard saying chui soo or “looking for trouble”. She had a valid point as Nabi Bux seems to be championing the wrong cause in a Chinese dominated area in Penang. This strategy is seen by many as sabotaging himself and also PAS, the party he claims to be a member of despite repeated denials by PAS. Abu Backer, meanwhile, seems fixated on the woes faced by taxi drivers in Penang and also the plight of Malays, going around on his campaign trail in a taxi. Both Nabi Bux and Abu Backer were initially questioned by the media for campaigning out of their constituency, such as Komtar, Penang Road and Little India, which fell under the Tanjong constituency, another DAP stronghold.

Nabi Bux’s reply was perhaps the most classic when he retorted that he was not from Penang, hence the lack of knowledge of his whereabouts and bearings in Penang! Abu Backer, who gives his occasional press conferences at the lobby of Traders Hotel in Jalan Magazine where he is residing, is also no different. However, he takes the cake for his antics. The most unforgettable one was when he was seen kicking Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s official car, an almost new Mercedez Benz, after failing to speak with Lim at the state legislative assembly on May 20. Lim was just leaving the premises in the car when the incident took place. Abu Backer ran towards the car before falling to the ground and later claimed to have been knocked down by Lim’s driver.

He even contemplated a suit against Lim, but later changed his mind saying he was being overly emotional about the whole matter on that day. With just hours before the curtain comes down for the campaigning period, which ends at midnight tomorrow, Abu Backer finally made a dramatic re-appearance after going into seclusion for three days in a presidential suite at a private hospital for a hip fracture, lung infection and a broken rib. He has sprung back into action since, this time going around in a caravan with a live horse to boot, with his official ceramah in Kampung Melayu today. All in all, the Bukit Gelugor by-election, initially thought to be the most boring by-election in history, has turned out to be the most fun-filled and colourful by-election in history! How can it not be when we have an eclectic mix of characters; Ramparkal with his voice resonating like his late father’s, giving people goosebumps when listening to him speak albeit with less sting, the three others with their own antics and agenda.  The Oscar, nonetheless goes to…. Abu Backer!