TANAH RATA, Jan 23 — Some Orang Asli and Malay voters here said they will continue to support Barisan Nasional (BN) because of its past track record in the constituency.
They denied that their backing of the coalition was racially motivated, pointing out that past BN Cameron Highlands MPs were Indian.
Mohamed Idris Mat Intan, 38, from Kampung Tanjung Gahai in Lipis here, told Malay Mail that he supported BN not because they fielded a Muslim candidate.
“Race or religion has never been a consideration for me in supporting a candidate. If people accuse the Malays of being racist, that we don’t want to vote for PH (Pakatan Harapan) because they fielded an Indian candidate, then they are wrong.
“All this while BN fielded Indian candidates for the parliamentary seat and we have voted for them. Our support is not based on racial or religious background, it is because of our loyalty to the party,” he said.
Mohamed also said he voted for the coalition in the last three general elections and added that all its promises had been fulfilled.
“We are aware that BN is no longer the government and it might not be able to help us like before, but our support never changes. We will vote for BN as we appreciate the help they have extended to us,” he said.
Echoing Mohamed Idris’s sentiments, Ahmad Mohd Salleh, 59, said that race and religion are not an issue as BN has had diverse leaders for the past six decades.
“When BN was the government back then, we had MPs and assemblymen who were from different races and religion. And they won because of the Malay vote too.
“Yes, we are aware the state government doesn’t have federal backup, but that doesn’t matter. The Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail has contributed a lot to the constituency and this is why we choose to remain with BN,” said the pensioner, referring to the Pahang Mentri Besar.
Pahang, where Cameron Highlands is located, is one of two states still under BN control. The other is Perlis.
Sita Bahari, 25, from Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Habuk, said that as long as a party is willing to help the community, they don’t mind voting for the candidate, regardless of the person’s race or religion.
“Of course, we were happy when BN announced that an Orang Asli will be contesting the seat, but that was not the reason why we support BN.
“We know no matter who the candidate is, the party will definitely help us. They provided electricity to the village and if the villagers can’t pay the utility fees, they will help us,” she said.
Piona Ibrahim, 22, said that she would support BN because it is the only coalition that has helped the community there.
“I don’t know about other Orang Asli villages, but here BN is the only party who visits us often.
“They provide education material for the children, fix the houses and roads, and offer medical assistance too,” she said.
“It’s not that we don’t want to support the PH candidate because he is not from among us, but we are confident that BN can help us even without being in government,” she said.
Another Orang Asli, Ayan, 80, from Perkampungan Orang Asli Pos Menson, said he would vote for the PH candidate, if he is better than the BN candidate.
“I’m voting for BN not because of PH candidate is an Indian, but BN candidate Ramli Mohd Noor is a former policeman and a local who understands our issues and problems well,” he said.
Ramli is facing off against PH’s M. Manogaran and another two independent candidates Sallehudin Ab Talib, a senior lecturer in Institut Aminuddin Baki Genting Highland, and Wong Seng Yee, who is a local farmer and activist.
Polling day is on January 26.