The three by-elections in Bukit Selambau, Bukit Gantang and Batang Ai will see contests by 15, three and two candidates respectively. The biggest field of candidates is in Bukit Selambau where 15 aspiring candidates filed papers, including Barisan Nasional’s Datuk S. Ganesan and Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s S. Manikumar. When the objection period ended at 11am, all candidates were accepted without any objections. In Bukit Gantang, ousted Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin is facing Barisan Nasional’s Ismail Safian and businessman Kamarul Ramizu Idris. There were three objections but all were rejected. In Batang Ai, BN’s Malcolm Mussen Lamoh squares off in a straight fight with PKR’s Jawah Gerang. Two objections were filed but both were rejected. In the unprecedented 15-way fight for Bukit Selambau, Ganesan faces the task of wresting the state seat from PKR which held it until V. Arumugam quit last month. In addition to the two main players, the aspiring candidates are L. Sarala, T. Chandrarajan, R. Loganathan, Tan Hock Huat, Zaharan Abdullah, Major (R) Mohd Fadzli Wahab, Anuar Abdul Hamid, A. Jayagopal, Husaini Yaacob, Abdul Rahim Abu, S. Moganakumar, Venason Michael and Kamis Awang. At all three venues, newly-minted and re-energised Umno leaders are heading the campaigns in the three by-elections in a face-off with large and vociferous opposition crowds. Among the 15,000-odd BN supporters accompanying their candidate were Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, MIC president Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu and MCA deputy president Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek. The PKR supporters were led by the party’s vice-president, Azmin Ali. Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Datuk Zahid Hamidi led the BN charge for the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat as they walked to the nomination centre with Ismail and Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. Nizar’s contingent included Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang and Penang chief minister Lim Guan Eng. The third Umno vice-president Datuk Shafie Apdal is in charge of the Batang Ai state seat campaign. Bernama reported that the weather was fine at all the three nomination centres, at which the candidates’ supporters started arriving as early as 6.30am. In Taiping, police closed up five roads leading to Taiping town – Jalan Sultan Mansur, Jalan Kota, Jalan Taming Sari, Jalan Temenggong and Jalan Berek – at 6am. Meanwhile, in Lubok Antu, Sarawak, the 38km road leading to Lubok Antu from the junction with the Sri Aman-Miri trunk road was jammed since early morning as many vehicles carrying party supporters, election workers and dignitaries, headed there. Bukit Gantang has 55,562 registered voters, including 136 voters, of whom 63.5 per cent are Malays, Chinese (27.1 per cent), Indians (9.1 per cent) and others. Bukit Selambau has 35,140 voters (15 postal voters) with Malays making up 50.2 per cent, Indians (29.5 per cent), Chinese (19.3 per cent) and others (1 per cent). In Batang Ai, there are 8,006 registered voters (43 postal voters)with the Ibans making up 95 per cent and the rest being Malays, Chinese and others.