ORANG Asli votes are seen together with the Chinese Malaysian votes as capable of determining the Galas by-election results on 4 Nov 2010. But unlike the Chinese, the Orang Asli are likely to pose a tough challenge to the PAS campaign.
With close to 1,900 registered voters in the Galas constituency, they make up around 17% of the 11,553 voters. However, the Orang Asli in Galas, who are mostly Temiar, are traditionally staunch supporters of Barisan Nasional (BN).
With less resources than other communities, the Orang Asli, over time, have come to rely on the BN for their welfare. It could have been why PAS, before the campaign, had initially thought of fielding an Orang Asli candidate.
“The [PAS-led] state government has never taken care of us and has been taking away our lands. Our education, healthcare, houses, roads [and other infrastructure] are all provided by BN, of course we would support them,” an Orang Asli from Kampung Jekjok, Pos Brooke tells The Nut Graph.
On 27 Oct 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the federal government has allocated RM10.8 million to take care of Orang Asli welfare in Gua Musang when he visited Pos Brooke with BN candidate for the Galas by-election Abdul Aziz Yusof.
In addition, it was announced that the Department of Orang Asli Affairs (JHEOA) would build 300 houses at Orang Asli villages in Pos Brooke next year.
On the other hand, PAS national election director Datuk Abd Halim Abd Rahim said the Kelantan government has in fact passed a resolution to gazette Orang Asli land in March 2010.
However, the Pengkalan Chepa Member of Parliament (MP) claimed that the state government has not been able to make much progress on the issue due to JHEOA’s interference.
As part of his election manifesto, PAS candidate for the Galas by-election Dr Zulkefli Mohamed said he would ask the state government to set up an Orang Asli taskforce if he were elected into the state seat.
“If the state government promises to recognise the Orang Asli land rights, and provided that the Orang Asli believe their promises, we may see a swing in their votes,” Pastor Moses Soo, who is close to the Orang Asli community, tells The Nut Graph.