Election Commission (EC) chairperson Azhar Harun urged those who witnessed PKR senator Bob Manolan Mohd threatening Orang Asli village chiefs (Tok Batin) in Cameron Highlands to lodge a report with the commission.
“Those who witnessed the incident, especially whoever has video recordings of the alleged statement, I would advise them to lodge a report.
“If the incident did happen and if the statements were actually uttered, a report should be lodged as I have said in my media release (on election offences) before this,” he told Malaysiakini.
Azhar also urged political parties, candidates, and campaigners to bear in mind the provisions of the Election Offence Act 1954 during their campaign activities.
In particular, Section 9 of the Election Offences Act 1954 prohibits any person from exerting undue influence on voters.
Under the provision, this includes the “use of any force, violence, or restraint, or inflicts or threatens to inflict, by himself or by any other person, any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm, or loss upon or against any person in order to induce or compel such person to vote or refrain from voting”.
Upon conviction, offenders are liable to imprisonment for up to two years, and a fine of between RM1,000 and RM5,000.
Azhar was commenting on a Malaysiakini report, which quoted Bob Manolan as warning the village chiefs that they could lose their salaries and posts if they do not support the Pakatan Harapan as the federal government.
He had said this during a dialogue with the chiefs from 18 Semai villages in Pos Betau this morning.
Kampung Tanjung Belida chief Apam Pak Adui said Bob Manolan had belittled the chiefs and was not fit to be a leader.
“How can he be a leader? What he said belittled Tok Batin. If he had challenged me to quit, I would have quit today. And I won’t go to vote.
“I have my own farm and I can earn a living. I do not need to beg from anyone,” he fumed.
Meanwhile, Kampung Chekai chief Karim Andung also criticised the warning.
“If they really want to help the Orang Asli, they shouldn’t talk like that. We are so angry, is this how they want to help us?” he asked when met after the dialogue.
Karim contended that it was the government which needed the help of the Tok Batin.
“If there are no batin, how will the government know who to go to when they want to call Orang Asli for their programmes?” he asked.
Kampung Jelengok representative Rangan Pak Chongkel maintained that it was their right to choose the candidate of their choice.
“We will go to events by the state government, as well as the federal government.
“Yes, our allowances are paid by the federal government through the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa), so we have to show our faces (at government events).
“But they can’t see (what is in) our hearts for this by-election. Our votes are secret,” he added.
Meanwhile, a local farmer has announced that he will contest in the Cameron Highlands by-election as an independent candidate.
Wong Seng Yee, 40, who was born and raised in Cameron Highlands, holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Science from University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
He is also an activist involved in the Cameron Highlands Agriculture Association (PPPCH), Cameron Highlands Flower Growers Association, and Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands (Reach).
Wong said that he had decided to contest since the by-election was announced and that even though he is taunted as “cannon fodder” by the local community, Wong thinks that the by-election is the platform to highlight issues faced in the highlands.
“It doesn’t matter whether I win or lose. The important thing is to bring up the issues, to voice our opinions and suggestions.
“I hope these (issues) can be raised in Parliament. Even if I lose, I hope the government will look into the matters I highlight,” he added.
The issues in Cameron Highlands, Wong said, included environment, agriculture, tourism and transport, and labour force in the farming industry.
He claimed that he has no political background and is not a member of any political party.
To contest in this by-election, Wong said he would use his own money to pay the deposit, with some help from his family.
The local farmer also plans to seek donations during the campaign period, and he promised to update the donation amount on his Facebook every day to be transparent to voters and donors.
Yesterday, Barisan Nasional (BN) had announced its candidate, former top police officer Ramli Mohd Nor, an Orang Asli from Cameron Highlands. He will be contesting as a BN direct candidate.
DAP will be fielding M Manogaran in the by-election. This will be Manogaran’s third time contesting the seat.
Disputed MyPPP president M Kayveas had also announced he would be contesting the seat.
The Cameron Highlands parliamentary constituency comprises of 34 per cent Malay voters, Chinese (30 per cent), Orang Asli (22 per cent) and Indians (15 per cent). – Malaysiakini