BUKIT MERTAJAM, Aug 13 (Bernama) -- Seberang Jaya Assemblyman Datuk Ariff Shah Omar Shah has been named as Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for the Permatang Pauh by-election on Aug 26.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who is BN deputy chairman and Umno deputy president, said that after considering various aspects including local and current factors, Ariff Shah, 52, was the best candidate to take on Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Najib made the announcement in front of over 3,000 BN supporters at Sunway Carnival Convention Centre here Wednesday night.
The by-election was called after PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail vacated the seat to make way for her husband Anwar to make a bid to return to Parliament.
The Election Commission (EC) has fixed Aug 16 for nominations.
Najib told reporters later that he was confident that Ariff Shah who has served the Seberang Jaya constituents well, would be able to do the same for all Permatang Pauh residents.
Ariff Shah was first elected Seberang Jaya Assemblyman in the 2004 general election when he defeated Dr Mansor Othman of PKR with a 4,464-vote majority. In the March 8 polls, he retained the seat for the second term after beating Ramli Bulat also of PKR by 533 votes.
When suggested to him that it was not a normal BN practice for its elected representative to serve as Member of Parliament and Assemblyman at the same time, Najib said nothing could prevent the coalition's leadership from making the decision because it did not contravene the Federal Constitution and the opposition also did the same.
When asked whether Ariff Shah's nomination would swing Chinese votes to BN, he said: "I am hoping to swing all votes".
He was also confident that all BN components would work together to ensure the coalition's success. "We are not looking at it from the aspect of election but we need to look at it in the aspect of BN's strength in the long run," he said.
Najib hoped all party leaders and members would give full support to Ariff Shah and his nomination did not mean it had affected the political future of others not selected.
"I also hope all the candidates not selected will give full support and work together in mobilising the party's machinery to ensure BN's victory in the by-election.
"During the campaign, don't push aside the selected candidate although in our division we are not supporting him. Don't look at him as the enemy," he said.
Najib said Ariff Shah's selection was also based on his success in retaining the Seberang Jaya seat in the last general election.
"We have to strive to achieve success and we should not entertain other considerations and we should not think who will become divisional chief and so on. Instead, think of the strategy to win the by-election.
Ariff Shah was born in Penang and attended primary and secondary education at Chinese schools in Perak, Terengganu and Kuala Lumpur.
He is also fluent in Mandarin and Hokkien.
Present at tonight's function included Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Umno information chief Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd Taib, Umno Youth head Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Puteri Umno chief Datuk Noraini Ahmad and state MCA chairman Datuk Liow Tiong Lai. -- BERNAMA