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Saturday, March 21, 2009

> PKR fields Manikumar for Bukit Selambau

Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) members Manikumar Subramaniam, a 35-year-old multi-lingual entrepreneur, was today named as the opposition party's candidate for the Bukit Selambau, Kedah, state by-election on April 7.
The native of Alor Setar, who speaks Spanish and is fluent with local dialects, was introduced to the media by PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim at Yayasan Aman in Sungai Lallang here.

Also present was Kedah Mentri Besar and state PAS commissioner Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak.

"We chose a candidate who is reliable, strong and formidable, and who cannot be enticed by Umno," Anwar said, stressing that the decision was made after extensive consultations.

He admitted that the some quarters within the PR had appealed for a Malay candidate as half of the constituency's population is Malay, while 30% is Indian and the remaining Chinese. 

"We took into consideration the fact that Kedah now does not have a single Indian assemblyman or state executive councillor," Anwar said.

He thanked Azizan and PKR Merbok division chief Datuk Rashid Din for opting for an Indian candidate, but stressed that Manikumar will need to serve all the races in the constituency and the state.

"We need a tough Indian leader, but he must also be a representative for all the races," Anwar stressed.

He added that it was a difficult decision as the party had short-listed 15 highly-capable professionals to be its candidate. 
The announcement met with protests from some PKR supporters who backed other candidates.

The Bukit Selambau seat fell vacant when PKR's V. Arumugam resigned as assemblyman and state executive councillor on Feb 8, due to personal reasons.

In the general election on March 8 last year, Arumugam had run as an independent to garner 13,225 votes against BN’s MIC candidate S. Krishnan who had 10,863 votes. Arumugam later agreed to move to PKR.

Anwar said Arumugam had contacted him two days ago to express his support for PR's new candidate.

"In fact, he asked to be present to show his support on nomination day. We have not decided. We asked him to be patient until we are assured of his safety," Anwar said. He added that Arumugam had worked hard in the PR state government until his resignation.

Azizan said Manikumar will assume the state executive councillor slot left vacant by Arumugam should he win.

Manikumar, an MBA holder from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), runs his own business. He has acted as consultant for various international concerns, including from Tanzania and Thailand. He also holds a Bachelor degree in tourism management from UUM.

Asked whether he was concerned about the strength of his main opponent in the by-election, Kedah MIC deputy chief Datuk S Ganeson, Manikumar said: "The people will give PR a chance as we represent the struggles of all Malaysians."

Manikumar has been a PKR member for the last two years. He is also a committee member of the Kedah Indian Chamber of Commerce.

On the possibility that there will be at least 10 independent candidates competing in the by-election, Anwar said: ""We shall persuade them (to withdraw), but it is a democratic country." - theSun.