KUANTAN: DAP has set its sights on wresting the Cameron Highlands parliament seat in the Jan 26 by-election to end Barisan Nasional (BN)’s winning streak in the constituency since 2004.
Although BN had won the parliamentary seat in four consecutive general elections (2004,2008, 2013 and 2018), their rivals DAP are confident that they are capable of pulling off an upset in the by-election, this time around.
State DAP chairman Leong Ngah Ngah said DAP is not prepared for another heartbreak in Cameron Highlands after coming close to secure victory in the last two general elections when BN candidates walked away winners after managing only a low vote majority.
“BN obtained less than 1,000 majority votes in the 13th and 14th General Election(2013 and 2018). So we certainly have a chance to win .... this (by-election). It is our best opportunity to wrestle the seat and serve the people there.
“The party has begun preparations to face the by-election and a series of meetings will be held soon to ensure our success on Jan 26,” he told NSTP.
Leong said he personally felt that DAP candidate for the seat in the last two general elections M. Manogaran should be picked to contest the seat.
“Manogaran never gave up after losing there and continued to serve the people, and since the people there recognise him, I feel its best he is allowed to contest. However, the final decision lies in the hands of DAP and Pakatan Harapan leadership,” he said.
BN’s Datuk Seri S.K. Devamany first won the Cameron Highlands seat, traditionally contested by MIC seat, in 2004 (11th General Election) and retained it in 2008 before former MIC president Datuk Seri G. Palanivel won the Pahang parlimentary seat in 2013. Datuk C. Sivarraajh won the seat in the 14th General Election this year.
Manogaran, who had contested the Cameron Highlands seat under Pakatan Harapan banner in the May 9 general election, claimed incumbent Sivarraajh had allegedly given bribes of between RM30 and RM1,000 to Orang Asli voters through several Tok Batin (community heads) to ensure they voted for the BN.
On Nov 30, the Election Court declared BN’s victory in Cameron Highland as null and void due to corrupt practices.
Sivarraajh, declined to appeal against the Election Court’s decision to nullify his victory, paving the way for a by-election.
In the GE14 Sivarraajh garnered 10,307 votes, beating Manogaran who received 9,710 votes and three others Wan Mahadir Wan Mahmud (Pas) who secured 3,587 votes; Mohd Tahir Kassim (Berjasa) with 81 votes and B. Suresh Kumar (Parti Sosialis Malaysia) who received 680 votes.
Meanwhile, Pahang MIC secretary, Ismail Abdullah said the state leadership will wait for MIC president Tan Sri S.A. Vigneswaran to chair a meeting on their preparations for the by-election.
A MCA party insider said it remains a mystery if they will pledge their support and campaign for BN’s candidate in the by-election, or stay away from Cameron Highlands.
“We have not received any instruction and nothing has been decided. Only the president (Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong) can comment about that,” he said.
It is learnt that although Sivarraajh remains favourite to contest the seat, there are concerns if he fails to qualify and the party will be forced to pick a senior party member to contest the seat.
Election Commission chairman Azhar Azizan Harun was yesterday quoted saying the commission was in the midst of reviewing a report by the Election Court judge on Sivarraajh’s status.