CAMERON HIGHLANDS, Jan 13 — Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Ramli Mohd Noor today urged Cameron Highlands voters to elect Malaysia’s first Orang Asli MP.
“I want the Orang Asli voice to be heard in Parliament. In our country’s history, there has been no Orang Asli MP before.
“I hope the people here will vote for me as they need someone who can voice out their needs and problems. Let Malaysia make history by voting me to be the first Orang Asli MP,” said Ramli after meeting his party machinery at Tanah Rata.
The former senior police officer, who retired as assistant commissioner of police, said that the Orang Asli here were facing a lot of problems and in dire need of development.
“If we want to talk about their problems, it’s too long. Development is lacking in the community and there were also a lot of land issues,” he said without elaborating further on the matter.
Ramli, who is not a member of any BN party but is running directly on a BN ticket, kick-started his campaign today with his machinery in Tanah Rata and visited Tapak Pasar Sehari here.
Ramli is among four candidates contesting the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat in Pahang.
The other three candidates are: M. Manogaran from Pakatan Harapan (PH) and independent candidates Sallehudin Ab Talib, a senior lecturer in Institut Aminuddin Baki Genting Highland, and Wong Seng Yee, a local farmer and activist.
Ramli also said that he was confident that he could garner the majority of Orang Asli votes from Perkampungan Orang Asli Betau in Raub right to Kampung Raja here, as about 90 per cent of them were his relatives.
“Machinery will also play its part in securing the votes for us, but I’m confident we will get the votes, because the majority of the Orang Asli are my relatives,” he said.
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 are from the Jelai state constituency.
Malays make up the majority voters at about 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.
BN has PAS’ backing and strong support from Malay voters, mostly from the Jelai constituency that is held by Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail from Umno, while PH is relying heavily on Chinese and Indian voters. Orang Asli voters could be the trump card to decide the winning party.
BN seems to have an early edge over the federal ruling coalition following PKR Senator Bob Manolan Mohd’s exhortation to Orang Asli voters in the constituency. He was alleged to have said that their Tok Batin (village chiefs) might lose their salaries and posts if they did not support PH.
The Election Commission has set January 22 as early voting day and January 26 as polling day.