Campaigning like no tomorrow 

The competition is overwhelming because DAP is the only party in Pakatan Rakyat assured of doing well in the general election. No one is willing to let go, not even those with political baggage or old faces who seem to have been up there forever.

The campaign for the DAP election tomorrow has been the most intense that anyone in the party has ever seen with delegates wooed and sweet-talked at dinners and via SMSes.

Joceline Tan, The Star 

SELANGOR warlord Ronnie Liu has been travelling from north to south asking people to give him another chance.

He was in Penang and Kedah the last few days canvassing for support to put him in the 20-seat central executive committee (CEC).

His luck has not been good the last few years but he still controls about one-third of the DAP ground in Selangor and cannot be written off just yet.

The party election is tomorrow and some of the candidates have been campaigning like there is no tomorrow.

For people like Liu, there might actually be no tomorrow if he does not win a CEC post. He needs the post to stay in the running as a candidate in the general election.

His rival Teresa Kok who controls another third of the DAP in Selangor has also been campaigning hard especially for the Indian vote because there has been a surge in Indian members in the party.

Kok, who is Selangor chairman and state exco member, met a group of about 30 delegates and members on Tuesday night at the office of an ally, Klang MP Charles Santiago, to ask them to give their full support to the two Lims – Guan Eng and Kit Siang – and also asked them to support her.

She also introduced them to the new DAP Senator Dr Arrifin Omar and lawyer Ganapathy Rao who is slated to contest the Kota Shah Alam state seat before taking everyone for an expensive dinner.

However, Datuk Teng Chang Khim, the man who controls the other one third of the party in the state, does not appear to be campaigning at all.

The State Legislative Assembly Speaker has been in Beijing the last one week and only returned a few days ago.

The stakes have never been this high as 68 candidates vie for 20 CEC seats at the two-day congress in Penang this weekend.

Kit Siang has, with his usual rhetorical flair, described the congress as a “historic curtain raiser to the hundred days to Putrajaya”.

The party is giddy with thoughts of political power and incumbents are clinging on to what they have while newcomers are trying to make it through the door.

All of them want a place in the CEC because it is equivalent to a passport to be a candidate in the general election.

The competition is overwhelming because DAP is the only party in Pakatan Rakyat assured of doing well in the general election.

No one is willing to let go, not even those with political baggage or old faces who seem to have been up there forever.

The campaign, especially among the big stakeholders, have been intense and a number of party members said they have never seen anything like this in the history of DAP.

“They have been buttering up the delegates especially in the last 48 hours,” said a Penang delegate.

Delegates have been taken for lunches and dinners and SMSes are flying about appealing for support. Delegates from Penang were feted at a dinner held at a Chinese restaurant in Sunshine Square and the key figure was Guan Eng who is also the party secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister.

Not everyone, especially those who do not have the resources, is pleased about this type of campaigning. They said it is not the party culture and will set a bad precedent.

But others argued that members expect it now that the party is in power and the leaders are getting big, fat salaries and going about in chauffeur-driven cars.

The states bringing the most number of delegates are Perak, Selangor and Penang – in that order. Together they make up two-thirds of the 2,500 delegates from throughout the country.

But the Penang delegates are expected to make up the most numbers since the congress is being held in Penang. As such, it makes sense to sweeten up the mood of the Penang delegates – the way to a man’s heart and vote is through his stomach.

It is evident that those around Guan Eng want to ensure that he gets the No. 1 slot in the CEC line-up.

Anything less would be seen as a loss of face and affect his quest to hold on to Penang.

Penang DAP sources said the top five slots were expected to go to Guan Eng, Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Fong Kui Lun and Tan Kok Wai.

Apart from Guan Eng, the rest are the long-marchers who have stuck by Kit Siang through thick and thin.

Talk of a conspiracy to bring down Karpal’s votes are still circulating. But the plot to cut him down to size is unlikely to work.

His outspoken style grates on the top leadership but the general body in the party appreciates it.

However, his “one man-one seat” mission is not generating as much interest as he would like.

The trouble is that those who currently have two seats have no intention of letting go while some of those with one seat are actually eyeing an additional seat.

The same sources said the two Selangor adversaries, Teng and Kok, will also do well for different reasons – Teng because there is always a place in the party for independent voices, and Kok because of her high national profile.

The young Turks who will make it are said to include Anthony Loke, Tony Pua and Teo Nie Ching. Loke is being groomed for bigger things, Pua is seen as bringing something extra to the party while Teo is trying to fashion herself as the next Fong Po Kuan.

Some said the CEC election may try to compensate for what happened at the Dapsy election where the South thrashed the North but others said sour grapes are not going to help anyone win.

Despite DAP’s claims of being a multi-racial party, the general CEC line-up will end up looking like that of a typical Chinese party with a few Indians and, if they are lucky, a token Malay face.

Party leaders are anxious that the congress takes place without any hitch. They do not want to be embarrassed by incidents like what happened at the PAS muktamar or the barely-there quorum during the party convention in Selangor.