KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — PKR vice-president Chua Tian Chang today apologised to the Orang Asli after a senator from his party allegedly threatened village chiefs to support Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the Cameron Highlands by-election.
Chua said that his party did not endorse any methods of coercion or enticement of voters in elections.
“Support from the voters has to be earned through dedication and commitment in serving the people,” Chua, also known as Tian Chua, said in a statement.
“On behalf of Keadilan, I sincerely apologise to the Orang Asli community who felt offended by certain unintended careless statements of our party.
“I also urge all our leaders to be extra cautious and sensitive to the public sentiment, as well as be mindful of the laws during the election campaign.”
Chua also stressed that village chiefs, community leaders and civil servants had the right to vote for whomever they liked.
“Federal funding or appointments should not confine or restrict the recipients from freely choosing their political affiliation,” he said.
“On behalf of the leadership, I reiterate that Parti Keadilan Rakyat is consistent in upholding the principles of freedom of association and expression; thus all citizens have the right to choose their respective political beliefs or ideology.
“We respect the rights of Tok Batin, and Orang Asli community as a whole to support any political party to advance their interests.”
At a dialogue with village chiefs in Jelai last Friday, PKR senator Bob Manolan Mohd allegedly threatened Orang Asli village chiefs to vote for PH or risk losing their salaries and posts.
Bob Manolan denied issuing the threat, but news portal Malaysiakini then released an audio recording of him saying at the dialogue, “tak sokong, kita buang” (If you don’t support, we will remove you) and “mana batin-batin yang tak sokong kerajaan, kita tak bayar gaji dia (Whichever village chiefs who don’t support the government, we won’t pay their salaries).”