PETALING JAYA: The significant number of orang asli voters in Cameron Highlands and their usual high turn out during elections provides a definite advantage to Barisan Nasional’s Ramli Mohd Noor.
The fact that the former police Assistant Commissioner is himself an orang asli could help the coalition retain the seat.
Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) senior manager of research Khairul Ariffin Mohd Munir said due to their demography, who the orang asli support will impact the outcome of the by-election.
He pointed out that the orang asli have always voted for the government of the day during the Barisan era, and it remains to be seen if they continue the in same pattern.
“However, one must remember that among the orang asli community in Cameron Highlands, there are quite a number who are Umno members and few from Pakatan Harapan,” he said.
Khairul believed that if the community is swayed by Ramli, then Barisan has a good chance of retaining the seat.
“They are definitely kingmakers in Cameron Highlands and candidate factor is crucial,” he said.
The community comprises 24.6% or 7,886 voters and their turnout during the 14 General Election (GE14) peaks at 86%, he added.
The only other constituency in the Peninsula with such a high orang asli voter percentage is Chenderiang, in Perak.
The breakdown of voters in Cameron Highlands also includes Malays at 31%, Chinese at 25.2% and Indians at 14%.
Voter turnout in GE14 for Malays was 82%, Chinese at 61% and Indians only at 59%.
The lower turnout for Chinese and Indians was because they were returning voters from out of town, said Khairul.
Pakatan Harapan will field M. Manogaran from DAP, who contested in GE14 but lost.
Meanwhile MyPPP will be fielding Tan Sri M. Kayveas.
The Cameron Highlands seat was ordered to be vacated by the Election Court on Nov 30 after it nullified the victory of MIC Youth chief Datuk C. Sivarraajh due to corrupt practices.
The Election Commission deemed Sivarraajh ineligible to contest in the by-election.
Khairul said the change of strategy by Barisan to place a high-profile orang asli instead of a traditional MIC candidate promises a tough fight ahead for all candidates.
Two Indian candidates from Pakatan and MyPPP could split the Indian votes, he said.
PAS is sitting out the by-election and Khairul said Barisan may also get the support of those who previously voted for the Islamic party during GE14.
He said PAS won in the Bukit Kota, Kampung Keledek and Sungai Koyan polling districts with votes from the large Malay populations in Felda schemes there.
Khairul is watching to see if Pakatan will rope in the Department of the Orang Asli Development (Jakoa) to help them enter the various orang asli villages in order to woo them.
He added that the outcome of this by-election will be a major landmark for both Barisan and Pakatan, as this is the first to be held post GE14 in a state which is not controlled by Pakatan.
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