Camerons Defeat – Wake-Up Call for PH

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As expected, the new Pakatan Harapan government fails to snatch the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat from Barisan Nasional. 

Time for some soul-searching on PH’s failures:

  • Manogaran’s despicable “Malays don’t even buy kuih from orang asli” comment
  • PKR Senator Bob Manolan Mohamad caught threatening Tok Batin
  • Continued flogging of ‘dead horse’ Najib, yet he was given the special privilege of not having to wear orange lock-up attire
  • Temple riot issue allowed to escalate beyond control 
  • Recognition of UED in cold storage 
  • Allowing the spewing and inciting of dangerous racial hatred
  • Not lowering cost of living, despite abolishment of GST 
  • Dozens of policy-turns, failure to implement promises 
  • PPBM’s Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman open demand for government contracts, insisting had done no wrong 
  • Lack of unity within PH

 

On Saturday (Jan 26), Barisan’s Ramli Mohd Nor became the first indigenous ‘Orang Asli’ to be elected as a Member of Parliament. He won the seat with a 3,238-vote majority in a four-cornered contest against Pakatan candidate M Manogaran and 2 independent candidates.

Ramli grabbed 12,038 votes, while Manogaran took 8,800 votes. In the May 9, 2018 general election, Barisan won the parliamentary seat with a smaller 597-vote majority. Back then, the Barisan candidate secured 10,307 votes, while Manogaran managed 9,710 votes. This means the 3,587 votes, which PAS had won last year, had been ‘transferred’ to Barisan.

After four by-elections last year that failed to provide any promising result, it appears the combo UMNO-PAS had finally gotten the correct recipe. Naturally, the UMNO Malay nationalist party and the PAS Islamist party were extremely happy that they have clinched their first victory. And they deserve to celebrate because unlike the Pakatan government, Barisan pressed all the right buttons.

Some hardcore Pakatan supporters blamed UMNO and PAS for playing racial and religious cards. What do you expect them to do? UMNO is a racist party while PAS is an extremist party. UMNO’s previous job functions were to steal and plunder under the pretext of protecting Malays while ‘Talibanisation’ was what PAS do best, under the pretext of defending Islam.

Pakatan has been shooting itself in the foot from the beginning, and it appeared they enjoyed it very much. Exactly why was DAP candidate Manogaran chosen for the third time when UMNO creatively picked the first indigenous ‘Orang Asli’ to contest, is beyond comprehension. UMNO had the courage to innovate and think out of the box. DAP repeated the same thing again and again.

Manogaran’s comment, that “the Malays don’t even buy kuih from Orang Asli vendors”, was absolutely idiotic. Heck, this guy didn’t even know how to wear the proper attire, resulting in an embarrassing moment where the three times candidate was ordered by the Election Commission to leave a polling station for wearing a shirt with a party logo.

Adding salt to the injury, PKR Senator Bob Manolan Mohamad was caught threatening Tok Batin (Orang Asli village headmen) – that ‘Tok Batins’ who do not support Pakatan Harapan will not get paid. Suddenly, all the bad behaviours previously demonstrated by Barisan and despised by the ordinary folks have emerged in Pakatan leaders.

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But Manogaran and Bob were not the only Pakatan Harapan leaders who seem to be out of touch after the coalition won over the federal government from Barisan Nasional. Even Prime Minister Mahathir was humiliated when he failed to swing the Malay and Orang Asli votes in his campaign for Manogaran. Like a broken record, the 93-year-old premier mocked UMNO as a “broken party”.

The fact that Mahathir was roped in for the Cameron Highlands’ by-election already gave an impression that everything was not well in the land of strawberry and tea plantations. And like Mahathir, DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang also whacked the crooked Najib Razak until the kingdom comes. What did Mahathir and Lim expect to achieve by flogging a dead horse?

Afif Abd Halim/TMI

On one hand, Mahathir condemned UMNO, a party he declares has become a “party penyamun (robbers’ party)”. On the other hand, amusingly, he wants most of the horrible and corrupted UMNO warlords to join his party, PPBM (Bersatu). Whose fault was it that the former PM Najib was given the special privilege of not having to wear the orange lock-up suit?

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Barisan, now the opposition, won because the ‘Orang Asli’ and ethnic Malay in Cameron were highly motivated to ensure Ramli Mohd Nor wins big. Pakatan, now the ruling federal government, lost because the ethnic Indian and ethnic Chinese in Cameron were demoralised and wouldn’t care whether Manogaran wins or loses.

Why was the Indian community demoralised? Thanks to Mahathir’s administration, Sri Maha Marianmman Temple riot was allowed to escalate beyond control. Even though the riot was started by a group of Malay gangsters, the government had chosen to play to the tune of racist UMNO and extremist PAS – blaming Minister P Waytha Moorthy instead of the Malay thugs.

Why was the Chinese community demoralised? Again, thanks to Mahathir administration, the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) has been put in cold storage. Preferred to be held hostage by UMNO and PAS, the premier reportedly gave a lame excuse – that the UEC recognition must take into account the feelings of the Malays.

Mahathir doesn’t seem to understand or pretend to be confused that his party PPBM is no match for UMNO and PAS when comes to racism and extremism. UMNO wannabe PPBM can never become more Malay than the UMNO-Malays and certainly can never become more Islamic than the PAS-Muslims. Both UMNO and PAS are the undisputed champions in their own specialised domains.

Perhaps Mahathir should be reminded that a bird in his hand is worth two in the bush. If he plans to drive his party to be as racist, if not more racist, than UMNO in order to lure the Malay voters, he will surely lose the non-Muslim votes. If he plans to maintain the non-Muslim voters, he cannot dance to the tune of UMNO and PAS. He simply cannot get the best of both worlds.

One of the reasons why the Malays voted for Barisan in Cameron was because they believed the Indians have killed a Malay fireman (Adib) in the Hindu temple riot. People like Jamal, Papagomo, Azwanddin, Lokman and even Zahid Hamidi or Hadi Awang should be locked up the moment they spewed and incited dangerous racial hatred. Mahathir did nothing to contain the situation.

Hari Anggara

However, playing the 3R cards (religion, racial and royalty) will not always guarantee Barisan’s victory. At the end of the day, the issue of bread and butter will take precedence over everything. Again, what have Pakatan Harapan delivered to the people in general, let alone the people of Cameron Highlands? Despite the abolishment of GST, the cost of living remains high – and is getting worse.

Mahathir administration must realise that the poverty-stricken ‘Orang Asli’ community still appreciate Najib’s “cash is king” mantra. After 9 months, what were the value propositions on the table that his government has brought to the community? If the more intelligent Malays couldn’t care less about 1MDB scandal, do you think the aboriginal people care whether Najib had stolen or not?

Like it or not, the prime minister was quite arrogant when he argued that the pre-election manifesto is not a bible that has to be followed. As a result, his administration has been accused of dozens of policy U-turns and failure to implement promises in the Pakatan election manifesto. Heck, until today, they couldn’t even agree if the RM81 billion ECRL has been cancelled or otherwise.

Astonishingly, Mahathir’s lieutenant – Vice President of PPBM, Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman – openly demanded for government contracts. Yet, the disgraceful corrupt former Election Commission chairman has yet to be sacked, despite his insistent that he had done no wrong for promoting the practice of favoritism, cronyism, nepotism and corruption.

Making Najib a punching bag won’t work in a Barisan bastion like Cameron Highlands. Malays account for 33.5% of the voters in Cameron Highlands, while the Orang Asli voters account for 22%. Naturally a combination of highly demoralised Chinese (30%) and Indians (15%) were no match for the highly motivated Malays and Orang Asli.

Fortunately for Pakatan Harapan, there are very limited seats where the “fixed deposit” of Orang Asli is the kingmaker. Mahathir should not beat himself up if his regret was not able to swing their votes. After all, even Najib has depended heavily on the community in his own Pekan safe seat, the same way Rompin’s Orang Asli calls the shot.

And fortunately for Pakatan Harapan, a closer cooperation between UMNO and PAS will essentially make them more extreme and radicalised. And that would also make the people in Sabah and Sarawak more disgusted about them, forcing the once “fixed deposit” of Barisan to become a great ally of Pakatan – neutralising the threat of losing the government in the next election.

The arrogant Pakatan leaders should start engaging the people more proactive instead of busy hunting for positions and titles and contracts. The rising cost of living has reached a critical level. Instead of mixing sports with politics and banning Israeli athletes from the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Mahathir should get his top priority right. – FinanceTwitter