On Jan 26 the remote Cameron Highlands constituency will decide who will hold the parliamentary seat after it was declared vacant by a court last year.
But the biggest highlight in this by-election is ex-PM Najib Razak’s effort to regain political clout, campaigning for the Barisan Nasional candidate.
On Dec 1 last year, the Election Court declared Barisan Nasional’s win in the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat in the 14th general election as null and void.
It found corrupt practices were committed to induce voters to choose the BN candidate. The news rattled the BN but for Najib Razak it was a chance to prove his mettle.
Donning Orang Asli traditional outfits, Najib is seen visiting the indigenous villages where he claims the BN has an absolute representation.
On one occasion, Najib says in every year’s budget, there would be an allocation for Orang Asli during his tenure as prime minister, and the BN did its best to rebuild villages and announced a water treatment project worth RM222 million for 42 Orang Asli villages, as well as economic development and entrepreneurship programmes, and village resettlement.
During a night rally, Anwar Ibrahim, the Pakatan Harapan PM-in-waiting lambasts Najib for his candour in campaigning actively for BN candidate Ramli Mohd Noor in the by-election.
Anwar recalls how Najib brought infamy to Malaysia with the 1MDB scandal, a scandal for which Najib accused of aiding the masterminds to syphon billions from Malaysia.
Anwar says Najib should be humble in accepting his errors instead of campaigning without shame in Cameron Highlands.
Pakatan leaders are on hands to remind the electorate of the reasons why the BN was thrown out of power, citing corruption, money laundering and bribery.
The elections are being held after the High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Azizah Nawawi gave credence to the petitioner who had established beyond reasonable doubt that bribery happened during the election.
But in the midst of criticism and the reminders of how corrupt Najib’s regime was, the latter went on campaigning without an iota of regret.
The favourite talk among Pakatan Leaders has in Cameron Highlands is this election is not between M. Manogaran, 59, of Pakatan Harapan and Ramli, an Orang Asli native of Cameron Highlands, who hopes to retain victory for the BN coalition.
They say it is between Najib and Manogaran, hinting that ‘Ramli’s campaign has been hijacked by a desperate Najib’.
Manogran is not new to Cameron Highlands. This is the third time he is hoping to win the seat, after failing to unseat Barisan in his previous two bids.
In his recent Facebook posts, Najib has been sharing pictures of him being friendly with the Orang Asli community.
In other posts, Najib is seen embracing an Orang Asli person. While BN is pinning its hopes on the Orang Asli, the PH believes Najib will be remembered as a corrupt leader and this will be sufficient to grant them another by-election victory.