Guessing Game On Tsu Koon’s ‘Sacrifice’ To End Soon?

(Bernama) – The guessing game on what sort of sacrifice Gerakan president Dr Koh Tsu Koon will make to move his party forward may end later this week.

Party insiders say that the leaders are in the final phase of sorting out the details for an announcement.

During Gerakan’s national delegates conference (NDC) last month, Koh said he was willing to sacrifice himself, a statement that remained ambiguous and required between-the-lines reading.

Some took it to mean that he would no longer contest in the next general election, but others read it as the party chief would still contest but in the toughest seat available.

Whatever the choice, intense internal lobbying and wrangling may defer Koh’s announcement because it hinges on getting some party leaders to make way for others to take charge of Gerakan’s onslaught in the next general election, especially in Penang.

Those close to Koh said the Minister in the Prime Minister Department had made up his mind as he had already briefed the top Barisan Nasional leadership on his impending decision.

“Just wait for few more days. All will be clearer,” said a grassroots leader, who did not want to be identified, adding that the announcement would be made before Gerakan’s central committee (CC) meeting in Penang on Saturday (Nov 19).

Party leaders are also scheduled to attend an event at the Gerakan-backed Wawasan Open University (WOU), where former party president Dr Lim Keng Yaik will be appointed as the chancellor of WOU.

On Thursday, Koh dropped another hint about sacrificing, saying that he had always been ready to give up the chairmanship of the BN in Penang to a person acceptable by other BN components.

Talk is rife that Koh’s acquiescence in giving up the chairman’s post is part of Gerakan’s transformation efforts that will see him opting out of the election all together with Penang state party chief Dr Teng Hock Nan and Gerakan vice-president Chia Kwang Chye.

Koh, together with Hock Nan and Chia, once formed a formidable team in the party to the extent that they were dubbed as the “Iron Triangle”, with some party members even likening their strong bonds to the party’s emblem, which is triangular in shape.

Whether those bonds are still as strong is difficult to answer, especially after Gerakan’s thrashing in the 2008 general election.

The new game plan calls for a new set of leaders consisting of party secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow and Penang Gerakan vice-president and party CC member Ong Thean Lye leading the party’s challenge in the next general election, particularly in Penang.

However, difficulties still persist. Party insiders say Chia still wants to take a shot in the next polls but add that Hock Nan does not think that he (Chia) should, and that he (Hock Nan) would only agree to step down if Chia stays out.

In a recent interview with Sin Chew Daily, Chia said he did not believe that party leaders would be so “childish” and “blur” to insist on such pre-conditions for the party to move forward.

For Penang-based political analyst Cheah See Kian, Koh may able to get Hock Nan to compromise and allow Chang Yeow to take over the state BN’s leadership but the problem is that Hock Nan was elected to his post as Penang Gerakan chairman.

“Chang Yeow can only be state BN chairman if there is a plan for him to take over Penang Gerakan chairman’s position. Unless there is some sort of transition plan being worked out, how can you have Chang Yeow as the state BN chairman when he is not even a state party chairman?” he remarked.

Cheah felt that it may not be a problem for Koh to let go of the Penang BN chairman’s position as he would still continue as Gerakan president but not for Hock Nan, as he was only a party vice-president.

“There must be a special arrangment for these issues to be resolved, this involves a compromise and timetable for transition,” he added.

The wrangling is taking a toll on Chang Yeow, who openly expressed his unhappiness over the situation in a recent Facebook posting stating that he did wish to be drawn into an unnecessary “battle field” where indecisiveness dominated.

His comment come just after he told a news portal that he was ready to take over as Penang BN chairman and that Koh had spoken to him twice on the matter.

Deputy President Chang Ko Youn, when asked to comment, said party leaders were still working out the details and an announcement may be made after the party’s central working committee meeting in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

So will Koh make an announcement on Thursday, exactly a month after the party’s national delegates conference? Nobody knows for sure.

But many do know that indecisiveness cost Gerakan dearly in March 2008, especially when it came to who should take charge in Penang.