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PKR candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail waves to the media together with Pakatan Rakyat leaders at the vote-tally centre in Permatang Pauh May 7, 2015. — Picture by KE OoiPKR candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail waves to the media together with Pakatan Rakyat leaders at the vote-tally centre in Permatang Pauh May 7, 2015. — Picture by KE OoiKUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — The wife of jailed Malaysian opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim won her husband’s parliamentary seat today in a by-election seen as a test of support for the three-party alliance he headed, local media reported.

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, an Irish-trained medical doctor and mother of six, took the seat in the northern state of Penang — according to unofficial poll results — that was vacated after her husband was jailed in February.

Anwar was imprisoned for five years on charges that he sodomised a former male aide, a case he says was fabricated by the government.

Today’s result marks the second time that Wan Azizah, 62, has stepped in for her husband during his controversial imprisonments.

She won the same seat in 1999, replacing Anwar after he was sacked as deputy prime minister in Malaysia’s long-ruling government and jailed on previous sodomy and corruption charges widely considered politically motivated.

In the Gallery


  • Police cordoning the road at the Permatang Pauh by-election nomination centre for Nomination Day, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Pakatan Rakyat supporters at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Barisan Nasional supporters at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Independent candidate Salleh Isahak at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PKR candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PKR supporters wearing Anwar Ibrahim masks at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • BN candidate Salleh Isahak at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • BN candidate Salleh Isahak at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Permatang Pauh candidates submitting their form at the Permantang Pauh nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • (From left) Independent candidate Salleh Isahak, PRM's candidate Azman Shah Othman, BN's Suhaimi Sabudin and PKR's Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. — Picture by K.E.Ooi

  • Barisan Nasional supporters showing their support during the Permatang Pauh by-election nomination in Permatang Pauh, Penang. April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PKR Permatang Pauh candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail giving a speech at the nomination Center in Permatang Pauh, Penang. April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PKR Permatang Pauh candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (second from right) with her children at the nomination center, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Pakatan Rakyat supporters holding placards during the Permatang Pauh by-election nomination, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Barisan Nasional candidate Suhaimi Sabudin (in red) holding hand together with Barisan Nasional leaders during the nomination day, April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Independent candidate Salleh Isahak. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Barisan Nasional candidate Suhaimi Sabudin. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Party Rakyat Malaysia candidate Azman Shah Othman. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • EC deputy chairman Mohd Hashim Abdullah said Permatang Pauh by-election will be expecting a higher turnout on polling day. April 25, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Permatang Pauh by-election oldest voter, Othman Daud, 103, casting his vote at SK Seri Penanti in Penanti, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Voter casting their vote at SK Seri Penanti in Penanti, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Voters lining up to cast their vote during the Permatang Pauh by-election, at SK Seri Penanti in Penanti, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Voters registering at the polling station, Penanti, Penang, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Elderly voter being pushed in a wheelchair to the polling station, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • BN candidate Suhaimi Sabudin casts his vote in Permatang Pauh by-election on May 7.

  • Voters lining up to cast their votes at SMK Guar Perahu, Penang, May 7, 2015. — Picture by Mayuri Mei Lin

  • Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail casting her vote at SK seri Penanti at Penanti in Permatang Pauh, Penang, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail showing her ballot before dropping into the box at SK seri Penanti at Penanti in Permatang Pauh, Penang, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail showing her inked finger to the media after casting her vote at SK seri Penanti at Penanti in Permatang Pauh, Penang, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail shaking hand with voter on the polling day at SK seri Penanti at Penanti in Permatang Pauh, Penang, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PKR supporters showing for support at Penanti in Permatang Pauh by-election, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PKR supporters showing for support at Penanti in Permatang Pauh by-election, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • PKR and BN supporters showing for support at Penanti in Permatang Pauh by-election, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • BN supporters showing for support at Penanti in Permatang Pauh by-election, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • BN supporters showing for support at Penanti in Permatang Pauh by-election, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Police guarding the crowd after a fight broke out at SMK Guar Perahu, Guar Perahu in Permatang Pauh, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A PKR supporter shouting at the BN supporters at SMK Guar Perahu, Guar Perahu in Permatang Pauh, May 7,2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • A BN supporter shouting in between the police at Guar Perahu, penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • BN candidate Suhiami shaking hand with supporters at one of the polling station during the Permatang Pauh by-election, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • BN candidate Suhiami with supporters at one of the polling station during the Permatang Pauh by-election, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • An angry supporter shouting back when clashes between two groups of supporters at SMK Guar Perahu, Guar Perahu in Permatang Pauh, Penang. May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Groups of angry supporter shouting back at each other after a clash happen in SMK Guar Perahu, Guar Perahu in Permatang Pauh, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Supporters throwing chairs, table and water bottle at the SMK Guar Perahu, Guar Perahu in Permatang Pauh, Penang during the Permatang Pauh by-election, May 7, 2015. — Picture by K.E. Ooi

  • Election Commission officers submit ballot papers to the vote-tally centre in Permatang Pauh May 7, 2015. — Picture by KE Ooi

  • An Election Commission officer places bags containing ballot papers on the stage at the vote-tally centre in Permatang Pauh May 7, 2015. — Picture by KE Ooi

  • PKR candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail waves to the media together with Pakatan Rakyat leaders at the vote-tally centre in Permatang Pauh May 7, 2015, while waiting for the official result. — Picture by KE Ooi

That imprisonment left Wan Azizah at the head of the reform movement that emerged in response to Anwar’s ouster, and she twice defended the seat.

But she vacated it in 2008 to allow the charismatic Anwar to return to parliament after his release.

Taking over leadership of the opposition, he helped inspire a once-fragmented opposition to unprecedented gains in parliament, nearly taking power in 2013 polls from the ruling coalition that has dominated Malaysia for decades.

The widely respected Wan Azizah, a petite woman who wears a traditional Muslim headscarf, appears unlikely to replace her husband as opposition leader, however.

That baton is expected to pass to Anwar’s longtime protégé Azmin Ali.

There had been some concern over Wan Azizah’s ability to retain the seat for her People’s Justice Party.

The three-party opposition alliance is mired in uncertainty amid internal policy squabbling, a situation worsened now without Anwar’s dominant presence.

In particular, the conservative PAS, part of the opposition alliance, has angered many moderates by calling for harsh Shariah law in a state it governs, despite an earlier pledge not to.

The Shariah campaign looks unlikely to succeed.

But Wan Azizah prevailed with a comfortable win, according to the unofficial results cited by Malaysian media. There was no immediate statement from her.

The sodomy conviction for Anwar, now 67, threatens to end his political career.

He calls the case a conspiracy by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s government to derail the opposition’s momentum.

Najib has been condemned at home and abroad over the Anwar case and for the arrests of scores of opposition politicians and other critics over the past year on sedition and other charges. — AFP

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