‘PH MAY PAY DEARLY’
Remarks may not go down well with Orang Asli, says analyst
PAKATAN Harapan has possibly placed its Orang Asli vote bank at risk following the utterance of negative statements ahead of nomination day.
Last week, PH candidate M. Manogaran said Barisan Nasional’s move to field an Orang Asli candidate would not secure Malay votes as Malays would not even buy kuih from Orang Asli vendors.
Manogaran, a lawyer, had apologised for his remarks.
On the eve of nomination day, PKR Senator Bob Manolan Mohd was reported to have “threatened” Orang Asli village headmen (Tok Batin) in Pos Betau to support the PH candidate, or end up losing their salaries and positions.
Orang Asli votes are decisive as they comprise 22 per cent or 6,896 of the 32,009 people qualified to cast their votes on Jan 26.
Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Human Ecology’s Associate Professor Dr Sarjit Singh Gill said thoughtless remarks could pose a threat to PH’s bid to end BN’s reign in the constituency.
BN has held the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat through MIC since the constituency’s establishment in 2004.
He said as politicians, Manogaran and Bob Manolan should be careful with their words and be sensitive when speaking to the Orang Asli.
He said Orang Asli chiefs were respected in the community and their opinions were highly regarded.
“They (Tok Batin) control the community and can determine which way the votes will go... they can influence their people to cause a vote swing.
“One must not belittle Orang Asli chiefs. They have to be respected as community leaders. When planning development for Orang Asli, Tok Batin have to be engaged and must never be bypassed,” he told the New Straits Times.
Sarjit said Manogaran and Bob Manolan’s statements would not have gone down well with the Orang Asli.
“I believe Tok Batin in other areas (outside Cameron Highlands) are also upset. Never humiliate or put them down.
“There is quite a challenge for PH to get votes.”
Political analyst and law lecturer from International Islamic University Professor Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood said the Orang Asli were sensitive about issues that could stir up emotions.
He said the Orang Asli might have been hopeful that the government would take care of their needs, especially tanah adat (customary land). However, the statements might affect some votes.
“It’s best that candidates and political leaders be careful with what they say during campaigning.
“To win votes, they might get excited or go overboard. So it’s best to be sensitive.”