CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Jan 12 — Independent candidate Wong Seng Yee a local farmer and activist said he decided to contest the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat to look into the plights of farmers here.
“I see myself as the voice for the farming community. First of all, if you want to farm you need a piece of land.
“Most of the farmers here, especially those who are doing it on a smaller scale are cultivating the land using the temporary occupation license (TOL),” he told Malay Mail after the nomination of candidates for the Cameron Highlands by-election at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultan Ahmad Shah hall here today.
Wong who came to file his nominations wearing a farmer hat and rubber boots said: “The TOL in the Pahang government is only a year lease. If I win, I will try to push the lease longer so that the farmers can cultivate confidently. At the moment, they would never know when the TOL will be taken back from them,” added the 40-year old.
Wong who holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Science from University of Nebraska-Lincoln is among the four candidates who will be contesting the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat.
The other three candidates are Ramli Mohd Noor from Barisan Nasional, M. Manogaran from Pakatan Harapan and another independent candidate Sallehudin Ab Talib a senior lecturer in Institut Aminuddin Baki Genting Highland.
Wong, who is involved in various non-governmental organisations such as the Cameron Highlands Agriculture Association, Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands and Cameron Highlands Flower Growers Association, said that giving out a long lease will allow farmers to venture into modern technology in farming.
“By venturing into modern technology farming, farmers can increase their productivity but this is only possible if they have the assurance that they have a longer lease for their land,” he said.
The father of four said he will also focus on providing training programme for the Orang Asli as they can be the solution to the shortage of labour force in Cameron Highlands.
“They are a good labour source for the farming community here. We don’t have to get foreigners to work if the Orang Asli has the skills to manage the farm,” he said.
Wong, who is using the hoe logo to contest, said he is not worried if he was labelled as a ‘spoiler’ as he said that farmers here have waited for a long time for someone from their community to represent them.
Meanwhile, Sallehudin, 61, said that he will address the debt issues faced by the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers for years in Sungai Koyan.
“I was also a Felda settler and I know the problem the people went through due to the debt they own. The people need freedom and a peaceful life,” he said.
Sallehudin said he also hopes to help the Orang Asli community in getting a better education.
“We know most of the Orang Asli here has been left out in terms of getting a proper education. If I win, I will make sure all the Orang Asli students gets a better platform to pursue their studies,” he said.
The Election Commission has set Jan 22 as early voting day and Jan 26 as polling day.
The Cameron Highlands parliamentary constituency has a total of 32,009 registered voters, with 19,524 voters from the Tanah Rata state constituency while 12,485 is from Jelai state constituency.
Malays make up the majority of the voters with 33.5 per cent followed by ethnic Chinese at 29.48 per cent, Orang Asli at 21.56 per cent, ethnic Indians at 14.91 per cent and others at 0.55 per cent.