9.50pm: Official EC tally – Anwar Ibrahim got 31,195 votes, Arif Shah Omar Shah, 15,524, Hanafi Hamat, 92. Anwar won with a majority of 15,671.
Anwar’s wife, Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, won the seat with a 13,398 majority at the March 8 general election.
The official voter turnout was 81.01 percent. There were 58,459 registered voters. The final voter turnout figure was much higher than what the EC had stated earlier today.
There were 447 spoilt votes and 98 unreturned ballot papers.
The turnout today is slightly higher than March 8.
Meanwhile, outside the main counting centre Tuanku Bainun Teaching Institute, thousands of jubilant PKR supporters had gathered to embrace their leader’s return to Parliament.
PKR vice-president Azmin Ali was there to address the crowd numbering some 10,000. Other party leaders like R Sivarasa and Tian Chua were also there.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang and PAS’ Husam Musa were also there.
Anwar also addressed the ecstatic group of supporters, thanking voters for their support.
“I thank God who has been with me through this gruelling election process. I thank the voters,” Anwar said as he arrived at the counting centre where some 10,000 supporters were holding a wild celebration.
“The message is clear… we have made a demand for change, for freedom and for justice,” he said. “The people do not want to be exploited. We want an economic order that protects all the people.”
Hundreds of riot police stood guard and a helicopter hovered overhead as the crowd gathered on a field outside the building, chanting “Putrajaya! Putrajaya!” – the name of the administrative capital and the seat of government.
“This is a clear indication that people of all races have rejected the communal politics of Barisan Nasional. It is a clear endorsement of our reform agenda. We are on track to take over the government,” said Anwar.
Tian said that the overwhelming victory showed that “the prime minister’s racial politics is bankrupt”.
The EC made the official announcement at 10.05pm. Only Anwar and Hanafi were present at the announcement. Also present was Wan Azizah.
Hanafi, who was gracious in his embarrassing defeat, said he was not disheartened by the lack of votes for him as he has succeeded in his aims to promote his little known party. He lost his deposit with the low votes he garnered.
The contest to be the elected MP is among PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim, Barisan Nasional’s Arif Shah Omar Shah and little known Hanafi Hamat from Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim).
This has been Anwar’s fort since 1982 and in his absence in the past 10 years, the seat has been held for him by his wife and PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
The by-election is necessitated by Wan Azizah’s decision to vacate the seat in July 31, to allow her husband a way back into the Parliament.
Permatang Pauh has three state seats under it – the BN-held Seberang Jaya, PKR’s Penanti and PAS’ Permatang Pasir. Arif is also the state representative in Seberang Jaya.
There are 25 polling centres, with 110 polling stream – all opened for voting since 8am. They will remain open until 5pm.
The weather in Permatang Pauh is clear and sunny. However, rain is expected later in the day. Voters are being reminded to be ready with their umbrellas and raincoats.
It has been constantly raining in the evenings in this constituency for the past week.
Heavy traffic is also anticipated throughout the day, especially with the narrow, kampung roads that dot most part of the constituency.
The police have also closed some roads in the constituency for better traffic management.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi reminded voters at his ceramah last night to come out early to vote.
PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim is expected to cast his vote at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sri Penanti at about 9am while his rival Arif Shah Omar Shah from BN will be voting at SK Seberang Jaya 2.
The third candidate, Hanafi, is not a voter from here.
Some 400 voters had been waiting at SK Seri Menanti, one of the key polling stations, since early morning to cast their ballots.
Both PKR and BN have also identified several measures to lure voters to come out to vote today. Both sides have placed volunteers to ferry voters to the polling centres. Umbrellas are also on stand-by for the voters in case of a sudden downpour.
Arif Shah’s Umno has deployed some 5,000 volunteers to help out in the by-election. Both Umno and PKR are also preparing food for the voters.
The rival parties have also set up their own websites for their supporters to monitor the situation today.