Arif Shah, who speaks fluent Mandarin and Hokkien, broke down in tears as soon as the announcement was made, and in an emotionally charge atmosphere went on to embrace Najib and other BN leaders who were present.
He then took the mike, and speaking in both Malay and Mandarin, promised to give Anwar a bruising fight.
His passionate words in eloquent Mandarin, particularly, brought the multi-racial crowd of BN supporters from Umno, MCA, Gerakan, MIC and PPP, roaring and on their feet.
"We in the BN are fighters for all races," he said. "And we do not want Permatang Pauh to be ruled by the opposition anymore."
"We don’t have to be nervous about how powerful Anwar Ibrahim is. We will fight him and bring Permatang Pauh back to the Barisan Nasional," said Arif whose Seberang Jaya state constituency is one of the three state constituencies in Permatang Pauh.
Incidentally, Arif Shah was the Umno Permatang Pauh youth chief in the 90s when Anwar was the division chief and the party’s state chairman.
Immensely popular in his state constituency which he has held since 2004, his Seberang Jaya service centre is known to be the first of its kind with ISO certification.
The announcement by Najib before a crowd of 2,000 BN supporters gathered at the launch of the BN machinery for the by-election, ended almost two weeks of jostling among Umno members for their preferred candidates.
Najib said the process of choosing had been quite a dilemma, stressing that it had been made based on the best possible considerations.
Arif then also hugged his rival for the nomination, Umno Permatang Pauh division chief Datuk Abdul Jalil Abdul Majid.
In the last general elections, the other two state constituencies of Permatang Pasir and Penanti were won by PAS and PKR respectively, and only incumbent Arif Shah managed to defend his seat in Seberang Jaya.
It is understood that the Umno leadership felt that the BN candidate for Permatang Pauh has to be a local with powerful grassroots appeal, especially among the rural folk, if there is to be any chance of giving Anwar a run for his money.
Also present were state BN chairman Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, BN Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishamudin Tun Hussein, BN secretary general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, Penang MCA chairman Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, Gerakan secretary general Datuk Seri Chia Kwang Chye, Penang MIC chief Datuk Dr K Rajapathy and Penang PPP chief Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan.
click here: BREAKING NEWS: Arif Shah is BN candidate for Permatang Pauh