PUTRAJAYA: Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail has downplayed Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) chances in the Cameron Highlands by-election, saying Barisan Nasional (BN) still holds the upper hand in the constituency.
The PH president said the coalition has always had difficulties winning the seat in the past, and that BN’s selection of a local Orang Asli candidate would make its chances of winning even slimmer.
“It has always been difficult for us, even before we became the government. But it is a little bit more difficult now because they will be using local sentiments.
“... of course this is all part and parcel of contesting (in an election), but we also have some things to offer, so at least if they (voters) vote for us, it is good enough. I wouldn’t say our chances is that high,” she said after attending Positive Malaysia 2019 Convention, here, yesterday.
BN had on Jan 10 announced Ramli Mohd Noor, who is also a former senior police officer, as its candidate, while PH placed M. Manogaran in the seat he lost with a slim majority of 597 votes to MIC’s Datuk C. Sivarraajh in GE14.
The seat fell vacant after the Election Court, on Nov 30, declared that BN’s win there in GE14 was null and void after ruling there were elements of bribery to sway votes, before the High Court nullified the result for the seat on Dec 13.
Cameron Highlands, which has been a BN fortress since the constituency was created in 2003 ahead of the 11th General Election, will head to the ballot boxes on Jan 26.
On images circulating on social media allegedly showing PH campaign team handing out cash to supporters dressed in PH t-shirts in the constituency, Wan Azizah dismissed the matter, claiming it could have been impersonators donning the coalition’s top.
“Are you sure (it happened)? You can always don a t-shirt and give out cash and take pictures. So you better check first,” she said.
PH’s Jelai operation centre assistant head Arvind Bharet, who is part of the campaign team, later clarified that the woman pictured giving out the cash was merely reimbursing PH volunteers for petrol costs, and that this was declared as part of the election expenses.
Meanwhile, Wan Azizah, who is also the deputy prime minister, said she has met with party Senator Bob Manolan Mohamad to seek clarification on the latter allegedly “threatening” Orang Asli village headmen (Tok Batin) recently, and was told that his statement was not meant as a threat.
Bob had reportedly warned the village chiefs that they could lose their positions and salaries if they did not support PH in the coming polls.
“He said he did not mean it in such a way. But I will leave this to the party president. But whatever it is, we don’t agree with issuing threats. That is why we must always be careful with our statements,” she said.