By Annabelle Lee

CAMERON POLLS | Orang Asli village chiefs (Tok Batin) in Cameron Highlands could lose their salaries and posts if they do not support the federal government, warned a Pakatan Harapan senator.

PKR senator Bob Manolan Mohd said this during the question-and-answer session at a dialogue with the Tok Batin in the BN stronghold of Pos Betau, Jelai, this morning.

“Batin are paid by the federal government, therefore, batin must support Harapan. If they don’t support, ‘kita buang‘ (we discard them).

“Any batin who does not support the government, we will not pay salary. It’s true! We will not pay them. If we pay them (but) they don’t support us, why should we pay them?” he added.

Bob Manolan said Orang Asli leaders and the Village Community Management Council (MPKK) must support the agenda of the government.

The chiefs and representatives of 18 Semai Orang Asli villages in the area were present.

Village chiefs are paid between RM800 and RM1,200 based on the number of villagers they oversee and the size of their village.

Bob Manolan, who is an Orang Asli himself, said the Harapan government wanted village chiefs whom it could cooperate with for the betterment of the people.

“If they can’t work with the present government, how can we choose them as village leaders?

“The policies of the present government are not like the previous government. The current government wants Orang Asli leaders who defend the rights and welfare of their people.

“Problems in the villages must be brought to the attention of the government, unlike before when (chiefs) just nodded their heads as long as money is given to them every month,” he added.

‘BN candidate good, but on sinking ship’

Meanwhile, Deputy Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Tengku Zulpuri Shah Raja Puji,  who was also present, urged the chiefs not to support BN candidate and former assistant commissioner of police Ramli Mohd Nor.

Ramli (photo), who hails from Cameron Highlands, was the highest ranked police officer of Orang Asli origins in the nation’s history.

“Even though their (BN’s) candidate is good, they say he is an Orang Asli, but the party he is representing is about to die!

“[…] Even if he is a good local Orang Asli, his ship is about to sink. What will he be able to bring?” asked Tengku Zulpuri, who is also the Raub MP.

Similarly, Bob Manolan also called on the Orang Asli to reject Ramli, whom he accused of colluding with a coalition which shortchanged the community.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Fuziah Salleh, Bentong MP Wong Tack, Ketari assemblyperson Young Syefura and senator Adrian Lasimbang also spoke at the event.

The dialogue session was organised by the Raub parliament service centre in partnership with the Kuala Lipis Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa) office.

Based on the GE14 figures, the Orang Asli make up about 22 percent of the total number of voters.

Harapan is fielding Pahang DAP deputy chairperson M Manogaran for the contest.