A storm in a bus-stop

The new bus station in Klang has sparked a fierce fight between two DAP leaders – a fight that can be detrimental to the party.



THE Klang bus station issue has created a storm in the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor Govern­ment and put DAP leaders on an uneasy path in seeking a solution.

Anything that is unpopular with the public and involves DAP leaders gets party supremo Lim Kit Siang very worried.

In recent days he has been frantically calling up DAP leaders in Se­­langor to get to the bottom of the crisis that has raised public ire and sparked a fierce public fight between two top DAP leaders, both elected representatives.

At issue is the shifting of the old Klang bus station from the town centre to a spanking new RM39mil complex – Klang Sentral – in Jalan Meru, about 9km away.

The public, petty traders, commuters and even bus companies are opposing the shift saying the new station is too far away, the rentals are high and they suffered a severe loss of income.

The project was started by the previous Barisan Nasional government and the public were not consulted at the planning stage.

No provisions were made for loss of income, public discomfort and important information was not shared with the public.

Centre of controversy: The Klang Sentral bus terminal is ready for operations but it is 9km away from the town centre.

The project was completed under the Pakatan Rakyat government and unfortunately they too have not shared important information like details of the concession agreement with the developer.

Klang MP Charles Santiago and Kapar MP S. Manikavasagam have been inundated with public complaints and want the state government to respond by sharing information and taking mitigating measures.

However, Selangor state assembly speaker and Sungei Pinang assemblyman Teng Chang Khim is all for moving to the new station.

Although not a Selangor executive committee member, Teng had chaired meetings where the issue was discussed and decisions made to shift despite public complains.

Teng has accused the two MPs of “behaving like the Opposition” for criticising the bus station project. In addition, he accused of Santiago of being a Barisan turncoat for opposing his own government.

Critics of Teng, both in DAP and outside, want him to make public the concession agreement with the developer and explain why he is taking a “close and special” interest in the bus station project which is part of multi-million ringgit housing and shopping project in Jalan Meru.

Nevertheless as Speaker, Teng has the power to chair meetings and in­­volve himself in executive decisions, said another DAP leader, a lawyer. For the DAP, the issue is more complex because Teng is popular in the party and seen by the Chinese community as a “Chinese Karpal Singh.”

In addition, he is a leading dissident in the DAP.

He once asked Kit Siang to resign and make way for younger blood and has managed to survive that affront.

He also wanted to contest a key urban parliamentary constituency like Petaling Jaya Utara and take up the fight for “equality and democracy” to Parliament.

But it is said both Kit Siang and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had blocked his ambitions and kept his career in check.

Despite that, Teng is popular and won party elections with comfortable margins and at one time even received more votes than Guan Eng.

That is why Kit Siang and Guan Eng have thus far avoided stepping into the bus station fight for fear supporters of Teng would accuse them of bias.

But both leaders are worried that the fight is tarnishing the party’s image and a DAP central executive committee meeting is on the cards to ask Teng to explain himself.

Some party veterans see the crisis as a disease of success.

“The DAP is no longer a small, centralised and cohesive party. Today it is big, spread out across the country and part of a big ruling coalition,” said a former DAP MP.

“The era of one or two central figures running the whole show is over. We used to settle issues in a coffee shop but today’s canvass is too big for that kind of informal politics.”

“We need to expand and develop new and permanent party structures to replace the personality driven politics. Above all we need to as parties find comfort in ruling not just opposing,” he said.