A ‘friendly’ fight for Penang DAP polls

By Teoh El Sen, Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: The Penang DAP election tomorrow, the last state polls before the party’s national convention next year, is likely to be an “amicable” affair without the intense infighting seen in the recent polls in Perak and Selangor.

DAP leaders told FMT that the kind of hostility between factions seen in the Perak and Selangor polls would be almost non-existent in Penang, though there are 800 delegates voting an unprecedented number of 88 candidates vying for the 15 state committee positions.

“I think there are no clear lines drawn in this election; this would be more of a free-for-all,” said a prominent state leader who declined to be named.

P Ramasamy, the party’s national deputy secretary-general who is contesting as a candidate, agreed, saying that there are no hostile camps in Penang compared to Selangor and Perak.

“The candidates are fighting in a very amicable manner. It is normal for candidates to jostle for the 15 positions and this time we have a lot of candidates, but it is all very peaceful. There are certain groups, but the divide is not clear at all,” said Ramasamy, who Penang Deputy Chief Minister II, and also Batu Kawan MP and Perai state assemblyman.

He said that he decided to contest after his name was nominated by a branch, adding that as a leader, he needed to be accountable and responsible to the party members.

“If you hold an important state post, you need to be responsible to the party. I’m offering myself so that I can better understand the members and help the party grow. A party position for me is important to keep in touch with the grassroots,” he said.

Ramasamy, a former lecturer, also said that he supported incumbent state chairman Chow Kon Yeow (Tanjung MP) to retain his seat.

He said that he was unsure of his chances but hoped to be part of the committee, adding that he felt members would not mind his Perak roots as DAP does not practise “parochial politics”.

On DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s decision to stay out of the fight, Ramasamy said Guan Eng was neutral and also there was already too much on his plate at the moment.

“It’s also not nice for a leader of his stature to take on a chairman’s role,” he said.

‘No factions’

DAP deputy secretary-general Chong Eng, a party veteran who was voted out of the committee in the last election, said that there are no factions and attributed this to the good leadership of Chow.

“We are a team under Chow and if there are groups, which I don’t think there are many, I don’t know because I spend my time doing the things that are important,” said Chong, the Bukit Mertajam MP, who claimed she was sabotaged by a few members with “self-interest at heart” in the last election.

She added that she did not think there would be any fixed “cai dan” (menu) for the delegates to pick their candidates.

However, Chong said that all leaders in the state should participate in the election so that the delegates themselves can choose the best line-up.

“Leaders who are interested in making decisions for the state DAP must contest to get into the committee. Now part of the problem is that leaders not in the committee want to decide how the state should be run,” she said.

“You need a very strong team and I feel that all leaders should be in the contest and let the delegates decide in the spirit of true democracy,” she said, adding that she also supported incumbent Chow.

“Chow and I have been through thick and thin. He is a leader who even offered to step down at one stage but was asked by members to stay on as he was thought to be the best person to lead the state DAP,” she said.

On her chances of winning, Chong, who joined the party in 1991 and was elected to the central executive commitee in 1995, said: “If the delegates choose leaders based on their leadership skills and track record, I believe I am one of them.”

On accusation that former state DAP grassroots leader Teh Hock Yong, or “Sakura Teh”, from

Nibong Tebal, was the mastermind behind a plot to overthrow the current leadership, Chong said that he had supporters but added that Tey was no longer a member after he became bankrupt.

‘No such rules’

Bukit Bendera MP and party strategist, Liew Chin Tong, who pulled out of the contest, said he did so as his main focus was at the federal level.