Penang Gerakan EGM: A failed experiment

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR:  A post-mortem on why a group, dubbed “Voices of the Grassroots” (VGG), failed to dislodge Penang Gerakan chief Dr Teng Hock Nam  as state chairman has come up with some startling revelations.

Party insiders say, for one, the effort made by some grassroots leaders was bound to fail right from the start, simply because they had used the wrong article to request for the extraordinary general meeting (EGM) in the bid to oust Teng.

The group requested the EGM under article 73 of the party’s constitution, which was a simple motion of confidence, to be passed if 51% of delegates agreed to it.

“This article is useless in their effort to remove Teng. It is just a motion of confidence. They should have used article 46 of the constitution which had the provision for the removal of any state or national leader.

“But in using article 46, they would have needed to have obtained two-thirds majority of state delegates. This is where they would have got caught. They could not muster the support so they opted for article 73, which is just to show he did not command support of all Penang Gerakan leaders,” said a party insider.

Although the group did not use article 46 in requesting for the EGM, they had demanded that Teng step down if the motion of no confidence under article 73 was passed.

However, at the EGM last weekend, they could not even get this simple motion passed, paving the way for a jubilant Teng to hold on to the state chief post.

There was intense debate on this matter before the EGM, with supporters of both sides making their respective claims.

Ordinary members

Another reason why VGG failed to edge out Teng was that most of those who were unhappy with the state chief were party members, some delegates from Penang mainland and a few state Youth leaders.

“There are only 10 Youth members who are state delegates, while delegates from the mainland are fewer than 100 delegates. Those from the island are more supportive of Teng, except for the supporters of former party secretary-general Chia Kwang Chye,” said a Gerakan leader familiar with the problem.

“So all in all, the unsatisfied group could not muster less than 50% of delegates votes needed to even pass the motion of no confidence, what more to remove Teng,” he added.

Apart from this, a senior Penang-based Gerakan leader said many party elders or senior leaders,  who were still delegates, were angry with the move to hold the EGM when the party polls was slated for next year.

“Older members and delegates were fed up with this EGM request. They were annoyed that Gerakan has become like MCA, which held an EGM to oust its president and deputy president earlier this year. They were sympathetic to Teng… not because they like him or supported him.

“If the group had waited until party elections next year, it would have made a headway in throwing out Teng,” he said.

Teng ’embarrassed’

The VGG on its part claimed “mission accomplished” as it had managed to embarrass Teng when the no-confidence motion was defeated by a narrow margin of 29 votes last Sunday.

“We have achieved what we set out to do,” a spokesperson from the group said.

“Our main objective was to embarrass him. We managed to do just that with the close result. This showed that he cannot take for granted his support in Penang Gerakan. It also showed that there were a quite a large portion of delegates here who are unhappy with Teng’s style of leadership,” he added.

However, supporters of Teng argue the slim margin resembled the 2008 state party election when Teng defeated Chia with a mere 10-vote majority en route to the state chief post.