On January 9, it was revealed that Barisan Nasional has appointed UMNO Ramli Mohd Nor as the coalition candidate for the upcoming Cameron Highlands by-election. Ramli is the highest-ranking police officer of Orang Asli heritage. He was the Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Malaysia Police.
It is a wise move made by Barisan Nasional because the district has a high amount of Orang Asli in its population, at 22% with majority of them are from the Temiah tribe. According to The Straits Times, 30% of the district population is consist of Malay, 30% Chinese and 15% Indians.
Meanwhile, MIC decided to sit out from the by-election. Since Cameron Highlands seat was gazetted in 2004, BN had always field MIC politicians as their candidates.
On the other hand, DAP Manogaran Marimuthu who lost the seat in GE-14 returned for a rematch.
However, his statement in countering Ramli’s candidacy is unsavoury, stating that the Malays wouldn’t even buy kuih from the Orang Asli.
Looking at the influencers list, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang is the most active politician to discuss on the by-election, from attacking PAS Hadi Awang to teasing MIC. He also reminded the public that DAP had fielded an Orang Asli candidate in GE-14 but was defeated. Then, he questioned BN on why elect an Orang Asli representative now but not during the past general election.
Besides the war of words between PH and BN, a smaller party MyPPP president M. Kayveas entered the battlefield, further splitting the votes. In the media, he is the most active in the topic of Cameron Highlands by-election. Thus, he shall not be overlooked.
The by-election put DAP in a hot seat as PH has yet to lose a by-election after GE-14.