PETALING JAYA: DAP’s M Manogaran today accused the government of “punishing” the people of Cameron Highlands for their support of the opposition in the last general election (GE13).
He pointed to Operasi Gading, which was launched in the area in December 2014.
The operation, which involved 14 state and federal departments and agencies, including the police and military, had turned Cameron Highlands into a “war zone”, he said.
“So-called enforcement officers gleefully entered into farms and tore down farm structures worth millions of ringgit in total. The defenceless farmers could only look on in horror as years of hard work and money was ripped from their lives.
“The multi-agency enforcement officers showed no pity or guilt in their senseless attack on the farmers’ livelihood,” he said in a statement.
Although the reason given for the operation was that the farmers had built illegal structures on land not permitted under the temporary occupation licence given, Manogaran said this was just an excuse.
“The government actually wanted to punish the farmers in particular and the people in general for supporting the opposition in GE13.”
Manogaran, who was then DAP’s candidate for Cameron Highlands, said Barisan Nasional (BN) had lost the state seat of Tanah Rata for the first time in that election.
BN had also come close to losing the Cameron Highlands parliamentary seat, with MIC’s G Palanivel winning by only 462 votes or 2%.
“I am told by the farmers that they are still under threat of another Operasi Gading if they show leanings towards the opposition,” Manogaran said.
The former Teluk Intan MP said the government was ungrateful for causing so much misery to its own people who had contributed greatly to the country and its economy.
“Instead of showing appreciation to the people and farmers of Cameron Highlands, the government gives some flimsy excuses to punish them for exercising their democratic right to vote for whichever party they want to.”
For years, he said, the government had allowed illegal extensions and free entry of illegal foreign workers thanks to corrupt officials, the very same who had participated in Operasi Gading.
“It is the duty of the state and the federal governments to help the farmers and the people instead of punishing them. The people of Cameron Highlands have been treated most unfairly, and a gross injustice has taken place which now needs redemption.”
He also warned BN not to underestimate the will and resolve of the people of Cameron Highlands.
“They will not be cowed, and if they are pushed to the corner they will fight back,” he said.