PUTRAJAYA: Barisan Nasional’s (BN) victory at the Cameron Highlands by-election on Saturday (Jan 26) is not a surprise as the constituency has been its stronghold for a long time, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday.
Dr Mahathir, who is also Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman, said that rural areas such as Cameron Highlands were typically BN’s strongest supporters.
He added, however, it was disappointing that BN played the race card during the by-election, the Malay Mail reported.
“They played the racial issue; it’s too bad. But this is the decision of the people and we accept,” Dr Mahathir was cited as saying to reporters after a closed-door meeting with statutory bodies.
“We had a proper by-election, there was no hanky panky. This winning by them (BN) is not surprising, especially as it was in a rural area and they were always strong in rural areas.”
On Saturday, BN retained its victory at the Cameron Highlands by-elections after its candidate Ramli Mohd Nor obtained 12,038 votes, beating PH’s M Manogaran (8,800 votes) as well as two independent candidates, Sallehudin Ab Talib (314 votes) and Wong Seng Yee (276 votes).
Dr Mahathir was also cited by the Malay Mail as saying that their defeat in Cameron Highlands shows that the government needs to address the issue of high cost of living in the rural areas.
“High cost of living for rich people, it does not mean anything. But for poor people, it is a big problem,” Dr Mathahir was quoted as saying.
“And these are poor people living in rural areas. We must find ways of reducing the cost of living as well as to help them earn a better income,” he said.