MP SPEAKS | Chef Wan, the world-famous celebrity chef whose real name is Redzuanwan Ismail, should be the role model for all young Felda settlers in Malaysia to become world champions and not to emulate wrong models to become either the king of kleptocracy or of trolls.
Chef Wan’s return to Felda Sungai Koyan for some Pakatan Harapan Cameron Highlands by-election campaigning was undoubtedly the highlight of the campaign – not the glittering but artificially-staged visit by former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak or even the ceramah rounds by the PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang.
And characteristic of Chef Wan’s biting tongue, he said what must be in the hearts of many Malays – that he would slap Najib’s face if the former prime minister was there, asking:
“How could you let Felda be mismanaged like that? Come on!
“You put (former Felda chairperson) Mohd Isa Samad up there knowing that he is so corrupted, with all kinds of s**t he has done before.
"If I had him here I would slap him (Isa)."
Chef Wan was enraged when asked about Najib’s claim of a “golden age” for Felda settlers, on the ground that they had received bonuses and high salaries.
Chef Wan will be quite a gold standard for the Felda youths and the new generation of Malaysians to emulate, unlike Najib.
Coming from a big family of seven siblings, Chef Wan always enjoyed food and he followed his dream and passion in cooking, giving up his profession as an accountant and became an international household name as a celebrity chef.
I have said that Najib’s three greatest failures as the sixth prime minister of Malaysia are:
(i) The monstrous 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal and his corrupt regime, condemned by the whole world as a global kleptocracy, which even the first BN Orang Asli candidate, Ramli Mohd Noor, dares not repudiate and put a distance between himself and Najib until the former prime minister had come clean on the largest kleptocracy scandal in the world.
(ii) His failure to bring the 200,000 Orang Asli in the country to the national mainstream of development. A visit to the most marginalised and remote Orang Asli posts and kampungs in Cameron Highlands will show that Malaysians, including Najib, should be ashamed and outraged that after 60 years of development, the Orang Asli are still deprived of the most basic infrastructure - proper access roads, clean water and electricity and the provision of their most elementary needs in education, health, housing and job opportunities - and the long-standing disregard of their traditional land rights.
(iii) Najib[s betrayal of Felda conceived and implemented by his father Abdul Razak. Felda’s “Golden Age” was during Abdul Razak’s short tenure as prime minister and those of subsequent prime ministers, but Najib betrayed Felda’s vision and interests of the first, second and third generation of settlers for Felda failed to be the “economic powerhouse to generate high income for Felda settlers” with his kleptocratic premiership.
If Ramli Mohd Nor is elected as MP for Cameron Highlands, he would sing praises of Najib and defend his three failures - the 1MDB scandal, the failure to bring the 200,000 Orang Asli to the national mainstream of development after six decades and his betrayal of Felda settlers.
Is this what the voters of Cameron Highlands want their MP to do?
'Uphill battle for Harapan'
Despite these great sins of the Najib premiership, it would be an uphill and well-nigh impossible task for Harapan to win the Cameron Highlands by-election on Jan 26.
A total of 247 people, all of whom are police personnel, will be eligible to be early voters in the Cameron Highlands by-election tomorrow (Tuesday) while 122 postal votes had been issued by Cameron Highlands by-election returning officer Ishak Md Napis on Jan 13.
Although a Harapan victory in Cameron Highlands is well-nigh impossible, there is no doubt that a Harapan victory will be all the more significant and momentous, not only for Cameron Highlands but for all Malaysians who had contributed to the historic decision of May 9, 2018 in bringing about a peaceful and democratic transition of power in Malaysia for the first time in six decades.
I myself had not expected a peaceful and democratic transition of power in Putrajaya from Umno-BN to Harapan, although I had hoped for such a peaceful and democratic transition of power for over five decades.
If someone had asked me on May 9 before the votes were counted, I would not dare to predict that Harapan would oust Najib and topple the Umno-BN coalition from power for the first time in six decades.
I asked Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently whether he had expected Harapan to win on the night of May 9, and he shook his head.
The incumbent prime minister Najib was then supremely confident of victory, even believing that he would be able to recapture the two-thirds parliamentary majority which BN lost 10 years ago in 2008.
Will Jan 26 exceed the achievements of May 9?
It is an uphill task, but Malaysians who want a New Malaysia must dare to dream big dreams and work for a victory on Jan 26.
But all the odds are against it, for it is dubious that we can muster every vote for Harapan cast in the 14th general election for Harapan in the Cameron Highlands polls.
There are a total of 32,009 registered voters, and the constituency breakdown are Malay 33.5 percent; Chinese (29.48 percent); Indian (14.91 per cent); Orang Asli (Peninsular Malaysia) 21.56 (percent); bumiputera Sabah (0.12 percent); bumiputera Sarawak (0.06 percent); and others (0.37 percent).
Chinese New Year celebrations will fall 10 days after the by-election. Will the thousand-odd Chinese voters who work outstation answer the call of “every vote counts” to return to Cameron Highlands to vote on Jan 26 – which would mean they have to return home twice in 10 days, with all the expenses involved?
There was a 83.5 percent of the Chinese voters, with M Manogoran as the Pakatan Harapan candidate garnering 87.3 percent of their votes in the 14th general election. Can this feat be repeated on Jan 26?
The same applies to the Indian voters, as I understand that there are some 800 Indian voters who are working outstation. Will they come home to vote? There was a 70 percent turnout of Indian voters with 60 percent of votes going to Manogaran. Can this number of Indian voters be excelled?
The next question is whether Harapan can garner more Malay and Orang Asli votes in the by-election.
One study shows that Harapan secured three percent of the Malay votes and 11 percent of the Orang Asli voters in the 14th general election. Can Harapan increase the support of Malay and Orang Asli voters on Jan 26?
All these factors will determine the outcome of the Cameron Highlands by-election.
The most important question is whether the people and voters of Cameron Highlands themselves can mobilise every outstation voter to come back to vote.
Although the odds are great, I am rooting for a greater “miracle” in the Cameron Highlands by-election when compared to the 14th general election – for Cameron Highlands to make electoral history in Malaysia.
On May 9, 2018, Manogaran lost to the disqualified Cameron Highlands incumbent MP C Sivarraajah, who is also MIC vice-president, by 597 votes, polling 9,710 as against Sivarraajh’s 10,307 votes.
The votes of the other three candidates were Wan Mahadir Wan Mahmud (PAS) who polled 3,587 votes, B Suresh Kumar (PSM) 680 votes and Mohd Tahir Kassim (Berjasa) 81 votes.
Can Manogaran turn the table on the BN, come Jan 26?
LIM KIT SIANG is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.