The Cameron Highlands political scenario is a very interesting one. It has been a stronghold for the BN (Barisan Nasional) in the last few general elections but a certain case of in-fighting within the ruling coalition seemed to have thrown the race wide open and perhaps allow the opposition front PR (Pakatan Rakyat) to come in and stage an upset.
This came about after reports that Datuk Seri G Palanivel, the president of MIC is eyeing Cameron Highlands. The rationale behind this is simple. Palanivel failed to win another 5-year term as a Member of Parliament when he lost at Hulu Selangor, which was his stronghold for many years prior to that. Palanivel became Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department when he was appointed as a Senator by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. As Palanivel cannot afford to lose in the next general election, he looks to compete in a ‘winnable’ constituency.
His strategy is obvious. He wants to ‘take over’ from Cameron Highland’s incumbent, Dato S.K Devamany who was one of the three MIC representatives who won in 2008. Devamany has done a lot of good work in Cameron Highlands since 2004 and he is known to be quite a respected man among the people there. Palanivel assumes that if the Vice-President of MIC can garner so much support among the Cameron Highlands community, the President (himself) will surely do better.
The problem is, Devamany does not want to ‘vacate’ his seat and let his president ‘take over’. Who would want to do that? After all, he has done his work for the people in Cameron Highlands and he is not ready to give it all up and try another place.
The other issue is that rumours have been going around that Palanivel has ‘struck’ an agreement with Umno who will be supporting him if he contests in Cameron. That was seen as a move to try and force Devamany out of the constituency. It has been reported that Palanivel has been visiting Cameron Highlands and meeting up with Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail, the Umno division chief of Jelai and the assemblyman there who is known to want Devamany out of Cameron. Some members within the party is claiming that Umno is trying to control MIC and Cameron Highlands but encouraging Palanivel to contest and if that happens, then it is very obvious. Some are saying that Palanivel should not undercut Devamany, who is his own party-man and reap the benefits that the latter had done over the years.