COMMENTARY, Jan 12 — Nominations open this morning for the Cameron Highlands by-election which will likely be a three-cornered fight between Pakatan Harapan (PH), Barisan Nasional (BN) and MyPPP president Tan Sri M Kayveas.
PH has given DAP’s M. Manogaran another shot at the seat after he lost by a slim margin of about 500 votes in the general election last year, and BN is placing its confidence in a direct candidate, Ramli Mohd Nor, a former top cop who is an Orang Asli.
Kayveas, meanwhile, had lobbied to be the BN candidate in the May 9 general election but BN had picked MIC’s C Sivarrajh, who is now disqualified from contesting after an Election Court found corrupt practices in the polls and declared it null and void, necessitating the by-election.
PH will aim to continue its winning streak in by-elections but it may have to contend with pledges in its election manifesto which are still not fulfilled.
A remark by PKR senator Manolan Mohamad during a dialogue with Orang Asli village heads in Pos Betau in the constituency yesterday could also come into play as the Orang Asli votes are crucial.
Malaysiakini had quoted Manolan threatening the village heads, allegedly telling them they would be replaced or would not get their salary if they do not support PH. Manolan later claimed to have been misquoted.
For BN, winning the by-election will rejuvenate its spirit as it continues to try and chip away at the support for PH and stand up again as a recognised political force.
As for Kayveas? He is largely seen as a spoiler in the race and could very well tip the odds in favour of PH.
The issues at hand among the locals are mainly bread and butter issues, including solving the traffic congestion that has plagued the hilltop tourist spot for many years and ending the problem of soil erosion.
The seat has two state seats — Tanah Rata which is a Chinese-majority seat and Jelai which is mainly Malays and Orang Asli.
With BN fielding an Orang Asli candidate in the by-election, PH could be facing an uphill battle in the highlands.