RANTAU: Independent candidate Malar Rajaram, who embarked on a silent protest over the weekend, has continued to train her guns on by-election candidates whom she says were restricted from speaking on the campaign trail but are now debating in Parliament.
Malar, who refrained from campaigning for two days beginning Saturday, claimed Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) had “not allowed” their candidates in the Semenyih and Cameron Highlands by-elections to speak when canvassing for support. Instead, she said, this was done by party members.
“Now, for example, Ramli Mohd Nor (Cameron Highlands) is an MP and has debated and given speeches in Parliament.
“Why did he not do this during the campaign? That doesn’t count, that’s already too late. I wanted to hear what he had to offer while he was contesting,” she told FMT when approached on her first walkabout at the night market in Pekan Rantau.
Likewise, she criticised the no-show by the PH candidate in Semenyih at a televised debate arranged by Sinar Harian and Astro. The debate was organised after the PH and BN candidates rejected an earlier dialogue by Bersih 2.0.
Bersih’s debate in Cameron Highlands was similarly rejected by Ramli although PH candidate M Manogaran made an appearance.
“We want those who are contesting as our representatives to debate with each other and talk to the media,” Malar said.
“The people don’t know what you want to bring to the table. And I don’t want senior ministers to say it for you. They can brief us if they want, but candidates should do the talking.”
On “pre-approved” or scripted answers, Malar said: “As long as they open their mouths and speak. They must speak.”
Malar, a former radio broadcaster from Port Dickson, is up against three others in Rantau: incumbent assemblyman Mohamad Hasan from Umno, PKR’s Dr Streram Sinnasamy and fellow independent candidate Mohd Nor Yassin.
When asked about her plans for Rantau and what issues she intends to tackle if she wins, Malar said this would be revealed in her manifesto, to be announced tomorrow.
She added that it is fine if not everyone welcomes or appreciates her protest, as long as her point is made.
“I don’t want to be just one of the regular candidates,” she said.
“I have to stand out. I have my own way of doing things and I don’t want to copy anyone. I just want to create awareness.”
She is also unperturbed over whether her action will translate into votes.
“It’s up to the voters,” she said.
“I already started the groundwork and paid my nomination fees. I am ready to campaign, so I will give it my best.”
The by-election in Rantau is the seventh since the May 9 polls last year. By-elections were also held for the Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia, Balakong, and Semenyih state seats in Selangor, as well as the Cameron Highlands and Port Dickson parliamentary seats in Pahang and Negeri Sembilan.