CAMERON HIGHLANDS: With less than a week away from polling day of the Cameron Highlands parliamentary by-election, political parties have intensified their campaigns by trying to reach as many voters as possible.
Party members are working harder to make sure that the constituents have their support before they cast their votes this Saturday.
Barisan Nasional’s by-election candidate Ramli Mohd Nor said he and party supporters would continue with their walkabouts, meeting the people and listening to their problems.
“I am feeling positive about this campaign. It is also due to the strength of our by-election machinery.
“I feeel that we cannot be fully satisfied until we push hard until the end of the campaigning period on Friday,” he added.
Asked on the possibility of Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad coming up here to shore up support for their candidate, M. Manogaran, Ramli said he is unperturbed by it.
“You should ask them (Pakatan). Why should I be pressured?
“I’m just an orang kecil (no one famous), and an orang asli from the village,” he added.
Apart from Dr Mahathir, other bigwigs said to be joining the political campaign are PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
The by-election is a four-way tussle between Ramli, Manogaran and two Independents Wong Seng Yee and Sallehudin Ab Talib.
Wong said he will intensify his campaign by putting up more banners and flags.
“My strategy is to place these materials at eight major locations in Tanah Rata. I will also continue with my walkabouts but with a larger group of supporters,” he said.
“I can feel the people warming up to me, and this gives me confidence,” he said, adding that he gets a lot of support from the farming community.
“Some villagers ask me how I can help increase their incomes. I will help build up the economy here by asking for more tourist-friendly facilities to be constructed,” he said.
Tanah Rata assemblyman Chiong Yoke Chong, speaking before a fund-raising dinner at Kampung Raja, said Pakatan need not change its overall strategy at this point.
“We will intensify our efforts into the last days of campaigning,” he added.
Chiong added that Pakatan would also leverage on its rural outreach efforts with orang asli voters.
Manogaran explained that Pakatan’s approach has always been to bring in as many outstation votes as possible, in addition to walkabouts and personally meeting local residents.
“It is important for us to convey the message to the locals to get their relatives and friends outstation to return to vote,” he added.
For the Jelai state seat, he said, there was less emphasis on outstation votes, and there were two different approaches for both Felda settlers and the orang asli community.
“Pakatan needs to address Felda settlers on what we can do for them, as their concerns are their livelihood and the economic situation like the price of oil palm.
For the orang asli community, their concerns are whether the aspiring MP will take care of them.
A political observer said some parties may have something up their sleeves in the last remaining days of campaigning.
“As of now, I believe it will still be a two-horse race between Barisan and Pakatan, with the Independent candidates playing the spoilers,” said the observer, who declined to be named.
He believes Wong will be able to get a significant amount of votes from the Chinese and farming communities.
He also believes that PAS supporters could be the king-makers in the by-election.
“During the last general election here, Barisan had over 10,000 votes, followed by Manogaran with 9,710 votes.
“The PAS candidate had 3,587 votes,” he said, saying that it is difficult to predict who the PAS supporters will vote for.
The Election Commission says Cameron Highlands has 32,009 registered voters, including 247 early voters and 12 absentee voters.