The sixth by-election since March 8 general election has been set. The Election Commission (EC) announced that May 23 will be the nominations day and May 31 as the polling day.

The state seat in Penang fell vacant following the resignation of its assemblyman Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, 33, on April 16 citing that it was in the best interest of the party.

In the March 8, 2008 general election, Mohammad Fairus polled 7,346 votes to beat Barisan Nasional candidate Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid by a 2,219-vote majority.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof made the announcement at a press conference at the Commission office in Kuala Lumpur Monday.

He said the Commission picked a Saturday for nomination and Sunday for polling due to grouses raised by voters during the recent tri-elections that were held on a weekday.

He also refuted claims that the Commission had delayed the announcement to Monday due to political pressure. The Commission, he said, was informed of the vacancy by the Penang State Speaker and the announcement was well within the 10 days allowed by law, he said.

Abdul Aziz also said that the by-election in Penanti would be the first to see a ban on booths by political parties and activities to fish for votes near polling stations.

He said there were provisions in the existing laws for this but it had not been enforced. Abdul Aziz said the voters list to be used for the coming by-election would be the updated one until April 16, 2009, which lists 15,384 registered voters comprising 15,360 normal voters and 24 postal voters, according to national news agency Bernama.

Of this, 72.68% are Malays, 24.22% Chinese, 2.39% Indians and 0.71% “others,” Bernama said.