GEORGE TOWN: With polling for the Cameron Highlands by-election just three days away, Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Ramli Mohd Nor is optimistic of gaining the support of the 6,000-odd Orang Asli in the constituency.
An Orang Asli himself, Ramli said they were tired of the antics of his rivals who assumed that the community expected handouts from the government. This, he said, was patronising.
“Respect and appreciate them. They do not need handouts of any form. Do you see them nagging and begging?
“No, they believe in voluntarism, and that explains their willingness to help us in this by-election.
“I personally don’t believe in handouts as it brings us more towards bribery. In other words, it translates into ‘no money, no work’,” he said in an interview with FMT.
Although his party had limited resources, he said, he was confident he could win as the “right spirit” was there.
“We have seen how ‘almost destitute’ parties won by-elections in the past. In this regard, a personal touch with the people, especially the voters, is vital.
“Maybe we don’t have enough resources but we have the right spirit to win,” he said.
Ramli, 61, is a Semai tribesman from Kuala Menson, Ringlet. He was born to a Semai father from Cameron Highlands and a Temiar mother from Gua Musang, Kelantan, at the Orang Asli settlement in Gombak, Selangor.
He faces Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) M Manogaran and two independent candidates – Sallehudin Ab Talib and Wong Seng Yee – in the by-election.
Asked about his opponents, he said he treated them with “high respect” and felt that they brought their “own offerings” to the people.
However, he was confident that his “hometown charm” would put him in good stead.
“Despite being busy as part of the police force in many states, I would come back to Cameron Highlands whenever I had the time,” said the former senior police officer.
“It is a good feeling to be with friends and family from my tribe.
“My heart lies there, and the people of Cameron Highlands know it.”
If elected, Ramli said, he would not feel out of place as an opposition MP in the PH-controlled Parliament.
“Sometimes, you can get issues heard by being across the aisle.
“When money and power are in your hands, you like to see others begging from you. Complacency runs high,” he said.
“Some operators are protected by the authorities or certain parties. We must stamp this out once and for all. This is not politics but a social reality.
“To achieve this, the government and the opposition should work together cohesively.”
He also said he had a plan to improve the traffic situation which he would reveal later.
On the issue of the environment, which had seen several tragedies in the past, Ramli said efforts had been made to protect the surroundings by the previous BN government.
He acknowledged that “environmental vandalism” was a recurring issue in Cameron Highlands but said he would elaborate on it later.
Ramli, the only Orang Asli to have risen to the highest ranks of the police force, retired as an assistant commissioner after 34 years of service.
He last held the post of Commercial Crimes Investigation Department deputy director at the federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman.
He trained at Quantico, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national academy.
In terms of academic achievements, he graduated with first-class honours in Business Studies from the University of East London and is pursuing his doctorate in the same field.