PERMATANG PAUH, Aug 26 The scene at Sekolah Rendah Seri Penanti beside the Kubang Semang police station was extremely noisy. Cheers, jeers, party chants were coming from both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan supporters.
Why all the attention on this particular polling station? Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be casting his vote here. Although he was only coming at 9am, supporters (and detractors) were lined up on the street from as early as 8am.
Police kept them back and made sure the area in front was clear so voters could come into the polling station unhampered. Finally at 9.35am, Anwar and his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail arrived.
Dressed in a light blue shirt and black trousers and wearing a songkok, Anwar walked into the school with his wife on his left arm. He cast his vote in Room 1 while Wan Azizah cast hers in Room 3.
Anwar told the press outside the polling station that "it's not Anwar versus the candidate but it's Anwar versus the government of Malaysia the ruling party".
He emphasised that the most important thing is winning, in an obvious reference to BN's fight to bring down the majority and so gain a moral victory even if its candidate Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah loses in this by-election.
He ended by sending this message to the government: "We are entering Parliament with a clear agenda. It's time you behave and accept the stark realities of the day."
Meanwhile, Arif Shah, accompanied by his wife Datin Latifah Asmawi and son Izwan Shah, arrived at the polling station at Sekolah Kebangsaan Seberang Jaya II in Lengkok Tenggiri at about 7.50am.
They walked there from their house nearby accompanied by several supporters.
Arif, dressed in a white shirt and wearing a black songkok, left the polling centre at about 8.20am after meeting some voters there.
EC deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Omar was present at Sekolah Kebangsaan Permatang Pauh at 11am where 47% out of 1,759 voters had already turned up. He estimated that a final a turnout of more than 80% will be achieved.
Twenty-five polling centres are open for the electoral roll of 58,459 people in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency to participate in what has become a referendum for the governing and opposition coalitions.