Media statement by DAP Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and International Secretary for Wanita DAP and member of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Rights and Gender Equality Kasthuri Patto on Monday 14 January 2019 in London on an official visit with the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat to the UK Parliament from the 14-17 January 2019
In another 12 days, on 26th January the people of Cameron Highlands will come out to choose a representative of their choice, without fear of favour or prejudice to bring the voice of the people of Cameron Highlands, be it Malays, Indians, Orang Asli, Chinese and all others to the Dewan Rakyat, the highest body in the country where laws are debated and passed that will affect every single person in the country.
In the same vein, Malaysians will also come together tomorrow to celebrate the harvest festival Ponggal where the riches of the earth are revered, celebrated and honoured through the hands of the men and women who so tirelessly toiled the earth to share the riches Mother Earth has to give to all.
Cameron Highlands which has always been known as a travel destination for Malaysians and for tourists has also been one of the environmental heartlands, as well as the sole producers of vegetables, flowers and other green produce that has reached all corners of Malaysia.
But sadly, not only has the voice of Cameron Highlands had not been heard in the Dewan Rakyat for so long under Barisan Nasional as compared to other Parliamentary constituencies, but the longstanding issues faced by the people there have often not gained as much traction even in and by the MIC, PPP and Barisan Nasional as the lack of development, injustice for the farmers, inequality that the Orang Asli have suffered and the rape of the land have been issues long forgotten and buried by the previous Barisan Nasional government.
This Ponggal, as cries of “Ponggalo Ponggal” sweep the land when the harvest of the earth – rice, sugar, legumes, raisins, cardamom are mixed in a clay pot with milk ,under the Malaysian sun, come to a boil as the pot overflows, must signify the many voices of the people who come from all walks of life calling for justice, equality, democracy, accountability and transparency for all Malaysians, leaving no one behind, in Cameron Highlands and throughout the country.
With that chant, many also say “Thai Piranthal Vazhi Pirakkum” which in Tamil translates to the beginning of the Thai month will be the beginning for new opportunities, and now, a new beginning for Cameron Highlands, paving a way for new prosperity, joy, good governance and righteousness.
With the call for new beginnings this Ponggal, Malaysians are rallying together with the good people of Cameron Highlands to do the impossible – to send a strong message to Barisan Nasional that Cameron Highlands, after years of supporting BN that did nothing to safeguard the rights of the land to the farmers and the people, nothing to secure the rights of the Orang Asli, nothing to ensure economic and social justice for the people, nothing to protect and defend the environment, must come out of the shadows, and vote for a candidate who will speak for all the people of Cameron Highlands, men and women, for the young and old and the disabled, for the Orang Asli communities and also for the environment, protecting, preserving and defending what Mother Nature has left for us to safekeep.
I wish a blessed Ponggal celebration to all Malaysians and especially for the brave people of Cameron Highlands to come out with courage and vote for your representative to be your voice in the Dewan Rakyat after decades of neglect and abandonment and oversight by Barisan Nasional.
“Thai piranthal, vazhi pirakkum. Ponggalo Ponggal !”
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan
International Secretary for Wanita DAP
Member of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Rights and Gender Equality
Democratic Action Party