KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 ― A PKR senator has denied telling Orang Asli village heads in Cameron Highlands that they will lose their salaries and posts if they do not vote for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the parliamentary constituency’s upcoming by-election.
In a statement today, Manolan Mohamad denied a Malaysiakini report which had quoted him giving the alleged warning during a question and answer session in Pos Betau, Jelai, which is reportedly a Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold.
He said he was merely telling the village heads (Tok Batin) that they should not be holding the post while also holding party posts in Umno.
“It is a conflict of interest for Tok Batins who carry out political and partisan Umno activities, and at the same time receive Tok Batin allowance from the Federal Government. In my entire statement, I have never stated a warning or threat which reads, ‘no vote, no pay’.
“At the dialogue session, the question submitted by the participant to me was: Who pays salary/allowance of the Tok Batins? My reply was, ‘It is the Federal Government that pays, therefore to the Tok Batins who still love their post as Umno branch chiefs, step down as Tok Batin’,” Manolan added.
Malaysiakini had quoted Manolan saying: “Batin are paid by the federal government, therefore, batin must support Harapan. If they don't support, 'kita buang' (we discard them).
“Any batin who does not support the government, we will not pay salary. It's true! We will not pay them. If we pay them (but) they don’t support us, why should we pay them?”
Clarifying further, Manolan said it is only “logical and rational” to have the Tok Batins on the same page with the PH government, in line with the administration's policies and aspirations to uplift the well-being of the Orang Asli community, as they are appointed by the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) to represent their community.
“In an effort to uphold democracy, PH takes the necessary steps to ensure that the Cameron Highlands by-election can be carried out without any intervention from the federal government, regardless of any form, that may influence voters,” he said, adding that the by-election was also happening because of allegations of corruption by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate.
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 the EC law.
“I would like to strongly remind candidates & campaigners of Section 9 of the Election Offences Act. Breach of this Section brings serious ramifications. Those with facts of alleged offences should lodge report with the police (or for bribery, with the MACC),” he said, using the acronym to refer to the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC).