Cameron Highlands, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Malaysia underwent a by-election on 26 January 2019.
What actually happened?
The by-election was held for the Dewan Rakyat seat after it became vacant. This occurred because the incumbent, Dato’ Sivarraajh Chandra’s win during the May 2018 General Election was declared null and void. This was confirmed after it was found that there were some corrupt practices committed during that episode. In the proceedings, it was found that Sivarraajh bribed the voters from the Orang Asli community to ‘buy votes’. He used between RM30 and RM1,000 to bribe them which was established beyond reasonable doubt. The election petition was filed by M Manogaran, the candidate from the then opposition party DAP (Democratic Action Party).
Timeline and facts of the event
The by-election took place on 26 January 2019. Three candidates contested for this Member of Parliament seat which were:
- Ramli Mohd Nor
- M Manogaran
- Sallehudin Ab Talib
Between them, Ramli represented Barisan Nasional, Manogaran with Pakatan Harapan and Sallehudin contested as an independent candidate.
The people went to the polls on that day and the results were as follow:
- Barisan Nasional retained the Cameron Highlands seat when Ramli polled 12,038 votes. A total of about 32,000 voters turned up
- Manogaran from Pakatan Harapan lost again with only 8,800 votes.
- The majority this time around was a lot higher than that of the General Election when BN won by 500 over votes
The Candidates from BN and others
Ramli Mohd Noor created history when he won the by-election of Cameron Highlands. The retired policeman, aged 61 became the first Orang Asli Member of Parliament. He served for 34 years in the police force before retiring as the Assistant Commissioner of Police.
Meanwhile, Manogaran is no stranger in the political scene. He served a term as the Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan Perak. A member of DAP, he has been actively involved in politics for a long time now. In the 2008 General Elections, he created history when he defeated a big-weight Mah Siew Keong from Gerakan. He would then go on to contest in Cameron Highlands in 2013 where he lost to the then president of MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) Datuk G Palanivel.
Pakatan Harapan, led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, rose to power during the 2018 General Elections after Barisan Nasional suffered its biggest defeat ever under Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Forming a coalition of opposition parties, Dr Mahathir achieved what many oppositions failed in the history of Malaysia, ousting Barisan Nasional from the Federal Government and various other states which were once its stronghold.
Najib, BN and Cameron Highlands
What makes the Cameron Highlands by-election so significant is that it would be 1 of the 5 by-elections that would be held after the 2018 General Elections. After the elections, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would lose his office as Prime Minister and then pressured to resign as president of Umno, the majority party of BN. Several charges were then brought upon him where many believed would signal the end of his political career. He however decided that the Cameron Highlands by-election could well be the place to show that his influence was still strong. As such, he proceeded to campaign heavily during the by-election on ground. Besides that, he was also very ‘loud’ on social media. The win by BN somehow threw him a lifeline with some quarters believing that there might be hope for BN and Najib after all.