KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate for next month's Pujut by-election will be decided soon by the party leadership, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
He said the matter will also be discussed with Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg, adding that all preparations for the by-election are in order.
"The preparation is going very well and it (the decision) is more on Sarawak BN's hands. We will help however we can.
"We will decide on the candidate soon and we will be discussing it with the Sarawak chief minister to determine who will be the best choice," Najib told a press conference at Putra World Trade Centre here today.
On May 19, the Election Commission (EC) announced that the polling for the Pujut by-election has been set for July 4, while the nomination of candidates will be on June 20.
A by-election was called for the Pujut state seat, which is in the Miri parliamentary constituency, after its incumbent Dr Ting Tiong Choon was removed from the Sarawak state assembly.
On May 12, Sarawak International Trade and E-Commerce Minister Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh tabled a motion to disqualify Dr Ting over claims that the latter held an Australian citizenship.
Malaysia does not allow its citizens to hold dual citizenship.
The motion received 70 supporting votes from BN representatives while 10 opposition lawmakers rejected it.
Meanwhile, Najib, after chairing the Umno Supreme Council meeting today, also announced that the party had received almost 30,000 new membership applications between April and May.
"For online applications, from April 20 to May 31, we received 15,201 new members. We also managed to increase our membership throughout divisions and branches.
"The total is 29,845 new members in just these two months.
"But what's more surprising was that lately, we have been receiving at least 300 new members daily, who came to our headquarters here to register," he added.
On a separate matter, Najib warned that the country is now facing a fresh geopolitical risk following recent terrorist threats and other various developments across the world.
"There are challenges that we have to face as a country aside from security threats, violent extremism..but the world's economy is improving positively.
"But we are aware of the current issues that are more serious such as geopolitical risks following the crisis involving the Gulf states, ballistic threats by North Korea, and even the United Kingdom's parliamentary result."
Author: Zafira Anwar & Arfa Yunus