KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Despite initially denying his “no vote, no pay” remark aimed at Orang Asli village chieftains or “Tok Batin”, PKR’s Senator Bob Manolan Mohamad has today tendered an apology to them and the public.
He reiterated his commitment to the Orang Asli community, adding that his appointment as a senator from within community is a testament of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) sincerity towards the often marginalised native group.
“I personally apologise to all Tok Batins and those who were offended by my statement. There is not a single intention in my heart to offend them, more so intimidate. I have defended the Tok Batin institution since long ago, and even fought for those who have been fired by the previous government.
“I realise that my statement not only offended the feelings of the Tok Batins, but also disliked by Pakatan Harapan leaders because of the principles of the Pakatan Harapan government which defends democracy,” Bob said in a statement.
Bob had reportedly threatened Orang Asli village heads in Cameron Highlands that they will lose their salaries if they do not vote for the government in the parliamentary constituency’s upcoming by-election, during a recent question and answer session.
News portal Malaysiakini reported his speech in Pos Betau, Jelai, which is reportedly a Barisan Nasional stronghold, after which Bob issued a statement denying he had ever threatened the chiefs and claimed he was misquoted.
The news portal then released an audio recording of his speech during the event.
He then said he was merely telling the village heads that they should not be holding the post while also holding party posts in Umno.
After Manolan’s alleged remark as reported by Malaysiakini, Election Commission (EC) chairman Azhar Azizan Harun issued a warning using his Twitter handle, reminding candidates and campaigners of the repercussions of breaking election laws.
“Unfortunately, in my speech to explain the real meaning, the quote that any Tok Batin who does not support Pakatan Harapan as the ruling government should not be paid salary, I admit it as a rather outrageous speech because it can cause confusion and can be regarded as a threat,” he said today.
“If examined throughout my speech, I explained more about the importance of Tok Batins’ roles in implementing all the policies of the current government that is highly committed in championing their welfare.”