Why contest for a ‘sinking ship’? Kit Siang asks BN’s Cameron Highlands by-election candidate

Cameron Highlands candidate Ramli Mohd Noor is pictured during a press conference at the Seri Pacific Hotel Kuala Lumpur January 10, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Cameron Highlands candidate Ramli Mohd Noor is pictured during a press conference at the Seri Pacific Hotel Kuala Lumpur January 10, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang today congratulated former top cop, Ramli Mohd Noor, for contesting on the Barisan Nasional (BN) ticket in the Cameron Highlands by-election, but asked if it was wise for him to join a “sinking ship”.

“Although I congratulate Ramli on his selection as parliamentary candidate for Cameron Highlands, the question arises as to whether it is worthwhile to be associated with a “sinking ship”?” the Iskandar Puteri MP asked Ramli, who is an Orang Asli.

Lim said in a press statement that Umno and BN are taking notes out of DAP’s playbook as they have already fielded Orang Asal candidates in East Malaysia, leading to a deputy minister in Sabah, a senator from Sabah and one MP from Sarawak.

He then added that DAP had fielded Orang Asli Nasir Dollah for the Galas state assembly seat in Kelantan but Nasir was defeated.

“Umno and Barisan Nasional are now learning from DAP to select Orang Asli to be in the forefront of political leadership, but it is open to question whether this is from conviction or from sheer political opportunism,” the Iskandar Puteri MP criticised.

Since Umno has been relying on PAS for a lot of political support recently, Lim also questioned if the former assistant police commissioner should be associated with the Islamist party because of its president’s assertion that a corrupt Muslim is better than a clean and honest non-Muslim.

He then added that someone of Ramli’s calibre and stature should have been fielded by Umno during the height of its power as he has the potential to become a deputy or full minister and could have ended the various plights plaguing the Orang Asli community.

Based on his conversations with the Orang Asli community, the veteran politician also reported that Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli (Jakoa), which is the agency responsible to assist the community in all fields, has failed in its task.

“Jakoa was formed 60 years ago to ensure that the Orang Asli community could progress as other communities in all fields of human endeavour, whether in education, economic advancement, housing and most important of all, land development.

“I asked Orang Asli representatives whether Jakoa has achieved its objectives, but the answer is that “NO” and in their view, Jakoa has not accomplished even half of its goal after six decades. Do we want to continue to have a Jakoa for next 100 to 200 years?” he asked.

He said after 60 years of independence, the first Orang Asli Director-General of Jakoa was appointed only eight months ago and less than 22 per cent of the agency’s staff are Orang Asli.

Lim said the problem must be tackled at the state and federal levels as the land issues facing the community are a state government matter.

He then hinted that in the 15th general election, Pakatan Harapan will focus on breaking one of Umno’s last two bastions — Pahang.

“Pakatan Harapan is now the federal government in Putrajaya but it can do nothing about the land problems of the Orang Asli as this is a state government matter.

“This is why the Cameron Highlands by-election is also an open salvo for the winning of Pahang state government by Pakatan Harapan in the 15th general election in four years’ time,” said Lim.