Minister: Cameron Highlands visit planned before poll, Pakatan hopeful told not to come

Loke noted today that his visit to Cameron Highlands was only coincidentally ahead of the January 26 by-election. ― Picture by Razak Ghazali
Loke noted today that his visit to Cameron Highlands was only coincidentally ahead of the January 26 by-election. ― Picture by Razak Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 — Transport Minister Anthony Loke clarified that his visit today to Cameron Highlands was arranged before the by-election there was announced.

Before starting his dialogue session with farmers in Cameron Highlands today, Loke quickly noted that his visit to hear them out on transport issues was only coincidentally ahead of the January 26 by-election.

“But today’s visit is not because of the by-election. That’s why I ask that you understand that I had asked our candidate not to come to this area and event to avoid misinterpretations that we are doing this programme because of the by-election,” he said in his speech that was broadcast ‘live’ on his official Facebook page.

“No, actually the Tanah Rata assemblyman Chiong has met me two or three times in my office to discuss issues and problems with vehicles and JPJ,” he said, referring to the Road Transport Department by its Malay initials and also citing lorries carrying vegetables as example.

Loke said Tanah Rata assemblyman Chiong Yoke Kong’s latest communication with him was via an October 23 letter, with Loke saying that he had agreed to visit Cameron Highlands personally.

“But because an earlier time could not be arranged, that’s why it is only today we hold this programme. That’s the background. I wish to explain that before we knew that there would be a by-election, he has brought these issues to me multiple times, I have also asked JPJ to look into these matters,” he added.

Loke said the continuation of a policy to provide road tax discounts for vehicles in Cameron Highlands was also not related to the by-election.

He added that he would meet Cameron Highlands RTD and the RTD director-general this afternoon to follow up on the issues raised in the dialogue session with farmers.

He also hoped to provide a clear guideline to all involved to ensure smooth implementation of rules.

The possibility of a by-election in Cameron Highlands only materialised when the Special Election Court on November 30 nullified the election result there.

The Election Commission subsequently announced that there would be a by-election in Cameron Highlands, with nominations to be on January 12, early voting on January 22 and polling on January 26.

On January 4, Pakatan Harapan (PH) announced that it would field DAP’s M. Manogaran as its candidate in the Cameron Highlands by-election.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail clarified that her January 3 official visit in Cameron Highlands was to give a mandate to the ongoing anti-land encroachment operations Ops Gading 5, which runs from January 1 to December 31.

She said the visit was a follow-up to the December 27 National Security Council meeting she had chaired and that was also attended by the Barisan Nasional-led Pahang state government.

“At the meeting, the (Pahang) state government asked us to continue the implementation of Ops Gading to address the issue of land intrusion in Cameron Highlands, which previously caused landslides that claimed life.

“The visit had nothing to do with the by-election, even the nominations is not done. That aside we still have to continue to work as the government no matter where,” she had then said.

Yesterday, electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 criticised the recent increased visits by PH elected representatives and government ministers to the parliamentary seat ahead of the by-election.