CAMERON HIGHLANDS • A closely watched by-election in Pahang's Cameron Highlands constituency will witness a four-cornered fight.
Malaysia's ruling alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH) is fielding Mr Manogaran Marimuthu from the Democratic Action Party, while the main opposition party Barisan Nasional (BN) is being represented by Mr Ramli Mohd Noor from Umno.
The other two men in the contest are independent candidates, local farmer Wong Seng Yee and former lecturer Sallehudin Ab Talib.
Their nomination forms were accepted by the returning officer yesterday.
There is a 14-day campaign period before the Jan 26 vote.
PH candidate Manogaran suffered a narrow 567-vote defeat in the May general election, which was won by a BN candidate. But the result was annulled in November after an election court ruled that BN had won due to bribery.
BN's Mr Ramli was the police force's highest-ever ranked Orang Asli (aboriginal tribesman).
The Cameron Highlands ward has the highest percentage of Orang Asli among the 222 Malaysian parliamentary wards.
Of the 32,000 voters, the Orang Asli comprise 21 per cent, Malays 34 per cent, Chinese 30 per cent, and Indians 15 per cent.
The Pahang ward also produces a big chunk of the country's vegetables, flowers and fruit, with some of the output exported to countries such as Singapore.
Analysts expect a tough fight for PH, eight months after it won federal power and as it struggles to deliver on election promises.
PH is also facing headwinds that are set to slow the economy over the next two years, and growing anxiety among the Malay-Muslim majority over the erosion of special privileges they have enjoyed for decades. The Cameron Highlands by-election is the fifth since Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took power - with three for state assembly seats in Selangor won handsomely by PH. The fourth was the forced parliamentary vote in Port Dickson to allow PH leader Anwar Ibrahim to return to Parliament.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK