KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 – The Pakatan Rakyat, which lost three Perak lawmakers last week, today lost its Bukit Gantang MP who died suddenly while its Kedah executive councillor V. Arumugam is said to confirm his resignation from the Bukit Selambau this afternoon.
The death and resignation will add to the fledgling electoral pact's woes as it continues to dispute losing the Perak government to Barisan Nasional in a controversial decision by the state ruler.
Earlier today, Pas MP for Bukit Gantang Roslan Shaharum died suddenly of a suspected heart attack while cycling to a pharmacy, paving the way for at least one by-election in the state mired in a constitutional crisis and saddled with two menteri besars from rival coalitions.
Police said passers-by found the 50-year-old's body by a slip-road at 11.15am.
The Bukit Gantang by-election will be seen as a referendum for Barisan Nasional's action to regain the state and Sultan Azlan Shah's decision not to dissolve the 59-seat assembly after the Pakatan Rakyat led by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin lost its slim majority through defections last week.
Incidentally, one of the defectors, Osman Jailu, represents the Changkat Jering state seat within the Bukit Gantang constituency.
Roslan, who was appointed chairman of the Perak Foundation last year, leaves behind a wife and 11 children. He was the human resource director for the Perak Economic Development Corporation before he quit to stand for elections last year.
In Election 2008, Roslan took the Bukit Gantang seat by beating Umno treasurer Datuk Abdul Azim Zabidi and Independent candidate Mohganan P. Manikam with a 1,566 majority. Roslan won 20,015 votes against Azim's 18,449 while the indepedendent lost his deposit with just 872 votes.
His death brings back Pakatan Rakyat to just 81 seats in the 222-seat parliament after it gained an extra seat when Pas' Abdul Wahid Endut convincingly won the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat last month following the death of BN's Datuk Razali Ismail.
BN has yet to win in any by-elections since Election 2008 and the Bukit Gantang seat will prove no different due to the prevailing hostile mood against the ruling federal coalition after it took back the Perak government last week.
In Alor Star, rumours are rife that Arumugam will confirm resigning form the executive council and Bukit Selambau seat today as he battles allegations of adultery. He had earlier complained about threats to his life, his family and aides including an attempted kidnap attempt.
He won in Election 2008 as an independent candidate and only joined the Pas-lead Kedah government after being assured of an executive council post. He was in charge of domestic trade, Siamese and Indian affairs in the Pakatan Rakyat goverment, which has 22 seats in the 36-seat assembly.
Arumugam resigned as a trainer at the RMAF college in Alor Star to contest in the elections, getting 13,225 votes against MIC's S. Krishnan's 10,863 votes.
If confirmed, both by-elections will test Barisan Nasional particularly Umno which is also going to party polls in March. The Election Commission has up to 60 days to hold by-elections upon a vacancy.